Data Download time. Summer travel season is in full swing. And like almost everything else in our lives nowadays, how you spend your vacation days can say a lot about your political leanings. According to data from MRI Simmons, self-described liberals more likely than conservatives to leave the United States, or at least have the ability to. 57% of liberals have passports, compared to 48% of self-described conservatives. Then there's the difference in how each group spends their downtime. Liberals are more likely to go to the beach by eight percentage points and more likely to indulge in fine dining by nine percentage points, while conservatives are more likely to go fishing or play golf. And when you travel within the United States, you might feel like you run into people with your same political leanings. Just look at the states people choose to visit. Park County, Wyoming, the so-called eastern gateway to Yellowstone sees visitors from mostly liberal strongholds and big cities, Denver, New York, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, Seattle. Compare that to Branson, Missouri, a vacation destination in the Ozarks, where visitors hail from Springfield, Missouri, Kansas City, St. Louis, Little Rock and Oklahoma City. That's all to say when you take your vacations this summer, maybe it's time to mix things up. Try to be a cultural tourist too. Reach out to talk to someone across the political ideological spectrum. Figure out why you disagree. Maybe that could help bridge this bitterly divided country.News flash: it's just you boring chattering class types who would want to start a political conversation in a national park or in line at the roller coaster. Isn't ruining Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter enough for you dweebs?
There might be a simpler explanation: a larger subset of the self-described liberals are people of means. Thus "fine dining" (indulging that wine snobbery) and "go to the beach" (these are the people who made "summer" a verb) proxy for having disposable income, and lots of it. Fishing, on the other hand, can involve hiring a charter boat or it can be taking your tackle to the nearest lake or creek.
Branson, on the other hand, might be a cheap getaway from those Plains cities, which has nothing to do with politics.
We're dealing with the coastal establishment, though, and their projection. Stock car racing and country music are on offer. The horror! The horror!
Moreover, the point of going to a tourist destination is to be a tourist, not some sort of annoying interlocutor. Consider that during Big Boy's stop in West Chicago, I saw Trump hats and Obama tees, and, much more significantly, Bear jerseys and Packer jerseys. None of that mattered.
What mattered? Is Big Boy the largest steam locomotive? (Depends.)
Is Big Boy Union Pacific's most powerful locomotive? (No, the railroad has a diesel with more oomph, and there's something even more powerful out there.)
Perhaps, on the weekend of October 12-13, when Big Boy visits Los Angeles, Meet The Press can send an observer to, well, observe, and mostly listen. That's their best chance to have a live Big Boy close to a studio, the odds are against an appearance on the east coast.