In September of 2006, we started up a shop offering bumper stickers, buttons and magnets that support various Democratic running mate combinations for the presidential race of 2008. Obama-Clinton 2008? Sure. Edwards-Kucinich 2008? Gravel-Clinton? Well, OK. Kucinich-Richardson 2008? I don’t understand that pairing myself, but we’ve got it too, just in case. In fact, our goal has been to offer just about every possible combination of presidential and vice presidential candidate from among the apparent contenders. That way, YOU and not some central committee had the ability to decide what a reasonable 2008 ticket would look like.
In November 2006, when I started reporting trends in our sales for various Democratic tickets, every single one of the running mate combinations we had sold included Barack Obama as either president or vice president. That changed in the Spring of 2007, as people began searching for alternative tickets and the brightness of Obama’s star power began to diminish to mere mortal levels. In June through September, The Gore-Obama combination garnered almost a majority of all running mate sales during that time, and items with Al Gore as the presidential pick were the most popular.
Have things changed? It’s been three months, so let’s do an update on Democratic Party running mate choices to look at patterns that appeared over the summer. The following are running mate combinations (placed in President-Vice President order) that have garnered at least a 1% share of all sales from October 1, 2007 through December 31, 2007, making them the major contenders in the hearts of our customers for a 2008 Democratic presidential ticket:
We can further tweak out the distribution of presidential and vice presidential choices. The following is the percent distribution of sold items supporting the following people as presidential partners in a ticket:
The following is the percent distribution of sold items supporting the following people as vice presidential partners in a ticket:
Those are two very different sets of preferences, aren’t they? You might see something else (if so, share your insight) but it seems to me that when people want to make an expression about running-mate teams, Al Gore and Hillary Clinton are thought of primarily as presidential candidates, but not very often as the vice presidential member of the team. Barack Obama is very often thought of as a vice presidential candidate, but relatively rarely thought of as the presidential member of the ticket. The important qualifier of that statement is when people want to make an expression about running-mate teams, since in sales of items that don’t mention a vice presidential candidate, Barack Obama is actually in the lead lately.
What are we to make of this apparent contradiction? To find out for sure, you’d have to ask the people who bought these items directly. But if I had to, I’d guess that people might be doing one of two things: 1. Attaching the Obama popular appeal to their candidate of choice to bolster that candidate’s appeal: “OK, I want Biden for President, but don’t worry, Obama supporters, he can be Vice President!” 2. Making a statement about Obama’s readiness for the job: “Sure, Obama is popular and appealing, but he’s not ready for the big job. Maybe the Veep position this time. My candidate X is better prepared.”
But these are just preliminary indicators. The running mate discussion is about to get more concrete as some presidential contenders are knocked out of the running in primary votes and caucus meetings over the next month and others are elevated in the delegate standings. Get ready, get set…