Since November of 2004, we have been tracking the strength of the different potential Democratic nominees for President in 2008 through a simple alternative measure: the number of bumper stickers, magnets, campaign buttons, posters and shirts that we sell in support for each of the Democratic contenders in the 2008 presidential race. Instead of the 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 kind of strong commitment turns into donations, and later turns into votes. As the election season has gotten underway, we’ve updated our tracking of jockeying in the presidential horserace once a week. Below are results for two time periods: the week of May 13 – May 19, and the year 2007 so far.
May 13-19, 2007: Richardson Soars, Lower Level of Support for Obama Sustained
The following is the percent share of sales of our Election 2008 gear in the past week, for each candidate who garnered at least a 1% share of sales:
Bill Richardson: 30.7% (last week: 7.4%)
Barack Obama: 28.2% (last week: 36.4%)
Al Gore: 15.4% (last week: 10.9%)
Hillary Clinton: 12.4% (last week: 14.3%)
John Edwards: 3.5% (last week: 5.8%)
Dennis Kucinich: 3.5% (last week: 7.0%)
Joseph Biden: 1.5% (last week: 1.9%)
Who’s not even on this list? Christopher Dodd continues week after week to gain low levels of support. Mike Gravel has dropped off precipitously from a respectable 9.7% share (is the effect of Gravel’s debate outrage wearing off?)
Of greater salience to me is the sharp rise of committed support for New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. This past week, items in support of Richardson shot up to 30% of all items sold. This may be a consequence of the rise in favorable media considerations of Richardson in this week leading up to his expected official announcement of candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination on Monday. It could also be a short-term random result that will disappear next week. We’ll have to look at more weeks across time to see if the trend is sustained.
Speaking of time, the trend for this year so far shows another stable development:
Yes, Virginia, levels of support for Barack Obama have fallen over the past month to levels that are, while still high, merely mortal. There’s a competition here, and I think competition is good. I’ll update this trendline again next week.