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Tracking the Democratic Contenders for Election 2008: Most Popular in Bumper Stickers, Buttons and T Shirts from November 2004 to March 2006

For nearly a year and half, we’ve been looking forward, offering bumper stickers and campaign buttons for various 2008 presidential contenders, both popular and marginal. The relative popularity of bumper stickers for different contenders indicates the extent to which various contenders’ supporters are motivated enough to make a planned public statement of endorsement. This in turn is an indicator of how easy — or how hard — it may be for different Democratic contenders to make waves as the 2008 race for president heats up and the primary season draws near. It’s less than two years now to 2008 (thank goodness), which makes these indicators increasingly relevant.

With the month of March 2006 just completed, it’s time for a new release of tracking data. Below are the sales results for all 2008 presidential contenders who garnered at least 1% of sales in March of 2006:

Relative Popularity of 2008 Democratic Party Presidential Contenders, March 2006:
Presidential Contender % of All Sales
Russ Feingold 40.3%
Hillary Clinton 18.1%
Barack Obama 15.5%
Bill Richardson 7.1%
Wesley Clark 5.0%
Al Gore 4.3%
Dennis Kucinich 4.1%
Mark Warner 1.0%
John Edwards 4.7%
Joseph Biden 1.2%
Barbara Boxer 1.2%

The following contenders garnered less than 1% of sales each: Tammy Baldwin, Evan Bayh, Howard Dean, John Edwards, John Kerry, Janet Napolitano, Nancy Pelosi, Kathleen Sebelius, and Tom Vilsack.

To place these results in context, let’s look at the performance of this month’s sales winners not just for this month but over the past 16 months:

Sales of Bumper Stickers, Buttons, Magnets, Shirts and Posters for Democratic Party Contenders for the Presidency in 2008, from November 2004 through March 2006

The big story here is — BOOM — the shot of Russ Feingold to a position as the single most popular Democratic contender this month, by a more than 2-to-1 margin over Hillary Clinton. As jclifford has pointed out, this switch in fortunes for Senators Feingold and Clinton comes as Russell Feingold makes a strong stance for the censure of George W. Bush over his unconstitutional and illegal wiretaps without warrants. Senator Clinton is, we hope, learning the cost of running to hide on this issue rather than making a public stand. Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, steady as ever, remains a strong alternative, well above Bill Richardson and the rest of the less-than-ten-percent pack.

Noticeably present in that less-than-ten pack is former Senator and Vice President Al Gore, who for a time looked as though he would assume the mantle of populist insurgent in the wake of his monumental speech on the rise of executive power under George W. Bush (audio | transcript). But Feingold’s legislative deeds seem to have trumped Gore’s speechifying words, at least for the moment. Don’t count Gore out yet: he’s arranged for a movie about the environment and himself to be readied and soon released.

What’s next? Well, we will just keep on keeping track of these Democratic contenders’ popularity as the 2008 elections creep ever closer; look for another release of tracking data in a month’s time.

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