For a bit more than a month now, we’ve been running a shop in which you can buy bumper stickers, buttons and magnets that support various Democratic running mate combinations for the presidential race in 2008. Obama-Clinton 2008? Sure. Gore-Feingold 2008? You betcha. Bayh-Biden 2008? Well, hmm, I don’t understand it, but fine, we’ve got that too. In fact, our goal is to offer just about every possible combination of presidential and vice presidential candidate from among the apparent contenders.
In the past month, we’ve sold over 200 of these items, and I’d like to share with you the results. As with our simpler president-only goods, Barack Obama takes the presidential position in most of the running-mate items. But Obama is not only dominant: he is also central. To show you what I mean, take a look at this graph of sales results, as of yesterday afternoon:
You’ll notice that each contender is represented by a ball (or node), and that one-sided and two-sided arrows connect some of them. A one-sided arrow coming from Contender A and pointing to Contender B indicates that we sold some bumper stickers, buttons or shirts supporting Contender A for President and Contender B for Vice President. A two-sided arrow connecting Contender A and Contender B indicates that we sold items supporting an A-B ticket and items supporting a B-A ticket. If there isn’t an arrow connecting two contenders, then NO items bringing the two together into a presidential ticket were sold. The percentages next to each arrow are the percent of all running-mate sales accounted for by sales of that particular combination.
To flesh this out, let’s look at Al Gore and Barack Obama. There’s a one-sided arrow connecting Gore to Obama, indicating that we sold Gore-Obama items, but no Obama-Gore items. Gore-Obama bumper stickers, buttons and shirts account for 35.2% of all the running-mates items we sold. That’s the highest percentage in the whole graph, and it is an impressive share, considering that there are 156 possible combinations among the 13 contenders we’ve identified. Just 1 of those 156 possible combinations garnered more than a third of all sales! People’s preferences are not random. It is striking, considering the dominance of Gore-Obama items, that not a single Obama-Gore bumper sticker, or shirt, or button has been sold. Is it hard to think a previous presidential nominee as a vice presidential candidate?
Looking at this network of combinations of presidential and vice presidential preferences, there are two aspects of the structure that stand out like Donald Trump dressed in a thong on Broadway just before Christmas (keep that image in your mind). First, only 11 out of the possible 156 combinations of presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate have been selected by buyers. Already, people are settling on just a few possibilities, over and over again. Second — and this is the biggie — every single item sold includes Barack Obama as president or as vice president. Every single one. Right now, at least, Barack Obama is the center of the Democratic universe.
We’re just at the start of selling these items, so as time passes we’ll get larger numbers and more details. I’ll check back in a month or so with an update.