Ever since the 2004 presidential election, we have been tracking the strength of the different potential Democratic nominees for President in 2008 through a simple but effective measure: the number of bumper stickers, campaign buttons, posters and t-shirts that we sell in support for each of the Democratic contenders in the 2008 race. Instead of the easy but weak and changeable indicator of an opinion given over the telephone to a stranger, our own system for tracking candidates measures the kind of support that counts – whether Americans are willing to spend money to show their support for a particular candidate in a public way. That’s commitment.
Beginning with a post last week, we’ve accelerated our reporting schedule, adding updates every week (we’ll still make monthly posts that use the greater number of sales to dig down into greater detail). Our weekly posts show trends over the previous six weeks and focus on the five most popular candidates across that time (mostly to keep the graph from getting too busy to read). Here is this week’s update, covering the period from January 7 to February 17, 2007 for the top 5 sharegetters during that period, who are the same names in the same order as they were in our last update:
The peak for Hillary Clinton at the end of last month followed her announcement that she was “in, and in to win.” But even during that peak, Barack Obama garnered a slightly larger share than his fellow Senator. Over the past two weeks, Obama has risen back into the campaign stratosphere with his formal announcement of candidacy. But Obama cannot keep announcing his candidacy forever, and is entering the phase in which he is beginning amending his soaring rhetoric with specific campaign proposals. Will these drag his support downwards, or will the strong support for Obama continue?
Beyond the top two, watch for the race for second place. Will Bill Richardson or John Edwards make a better case as the backup candidate — or will someone come roaring out of left field (Dennis Kucinich) or the conservative middle (Tom Vilsack)? And how about Al Gore? This week the man places third despite declaring “I have no intention to run for president” (while curiously declining to say he will not run). What would it take for this season’s draft candidate to jump in, and what would the consequence of that massive cannonball be?
Questions, questions, questions — and I don’t have the answers. I can only promise you that if you check back next week, we’ll use our updated tracking stats to bring us seven days closer to a resolution.