Since the day after Election Day of 2004, we have been tracking the number of bumper stickers, magnets, campaign buttons and shirts that we sell in support for each of the Democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential race. While polls measure opinions of the moment, our measure tracks a more strong and lasting and lasting commitment 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. The following is the percent share of sales of our Election 2008 gear in the past week of September 30 – October 6, 2007:
That’s right: Christopher Dodd garnered not a single bumper sticker, button or t-shirt sale promoting his campaign last week. He, Bill Richardson, Mike Gravel and Joe Biden should not be heartened by their performance: after the better part of a year in public performance after public performance after public performance, they’ve had their opportunities to get the word out and make their case, and literally speaking only a few are buying.
Let’s put the last week in context by showing the trend for the year so far, right up to October 6, 2007. Iâ€™ve split the candidates into three separate graphs because stuffing all the candidate trends together makes the results look like a mess of spaghetti.
As these graphs show, Hillary Clinton has lost a significant part her share of sales to committed buyers over the past two weeks. Gaining share are John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich and Barack Obama — who has notably taken a slim lead this week in the share to committed supporters.
In the light of all the news over the past two weeks informing us of Clinton’s increasingly strong “aura of inevitability,” what’s to explain her decline in sales performance and the rise in the share of those supporting other contenders? I can only guess, but if you want a guess here it is: Hillary Clinton supporters are beginning to rest on their laurels a bit, taking this “aura of inevitability” message as a source of comfort and perhaps lassitude. For the alternatives to Clinton, however, the realization is dawning that now would be the time to show their support, because — look it up — the first elections to determine the Democratic nominee are happening in a bare three months’ time. Holy moly! If it’s not going to Clinton, then Edwards, Kucinich and Obama supporters are going to have to do something about it soon, and I’d guess that a number of them are deciding to take the message out for a walk (on a button or a shirt) or for a drive (on their car’s bumper).
Will this trend continue? Look for another update next week.