Well, here we are. This is it, people. One month from today, the first vote in the presidential campaign of 2008 will commence with the Iowa caucuses. Most of the other votes will take place in the month or so after that. And just like that, we’ll have our national choices set out for us. As the dates for actual votes come closer, let’s look again at the choices of people willing to put their money where their mouths are.
Since the day after Election Day of 2004, we have been tracking the number of bumper stickers, magnets, campaign buttons, t-shirts and now lawn signs 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 can turn into donations and votes. The following is the percent share of sales of our Election 2008 gear in the past week of November 24 – December 1, 2007:
Hillary Clinton: 28.6%
Joseph Biden: 22.6%
Barack Obama: 18.9%
Dennis Kucinich: 13.5%
Bill Richardson: 8.1%
Al Gore: 5.4%
John Edwards: 2.4%
Chris Dodd: less than 1 percent
Mike Gravel: less than 1 percent
And here’s a longitudinal look, showing the change in share for each candidate, week by week, during the year so far:
I’ve shown just the top five sharegetters for sake of visual clarity. There’s clearly some noise from week to week, maybe having to do with various new people linking into our shop, maybe having to do with weekly performances of the candidates. Hillary Clinton got some positive attention last week for her handling of a hostage crisis, and consensus continues to build in the punditocracy (and perhaps in the public) that Joseph Biden is a very good debater. But stretching our view beyond the week-to-week noise, some patterns are perceptible. Barack Obama is nowhere near the anointed status he had earlier in the year. Hillary Clinton is dominant, but not unapproachably so. Joseph Biden and Dennis Kucinich — not John Edwards and Bill Richardson — appear to hold the second tier in popularity among those committed enough to buy a bumper sticker, button, shirt or lawn sign expressing support.
It’s not long now until these indicators become moot and preferences become fixed into votes. There are only four weeks to go until all this waiting and watching and wondering ends and the voting begins. Look for another update next week.