Earlier this year I looked at statistics of bumper sticker, button and t-shirt sales from the 4th week of May 2008 and compared them to our sales statistics from the 4th week of May in 2004. What I found indicated that the two elections were very different. In May 2004, about 10% of our election sales were in support of John Kerry, while about 90% of our election sales were in opposition to George W. Bush. In May of 2008, on the other hand, about 96% our election sales were in support of Barack Obama, with only 4% of sales in opposition to John McCain. My conclusion at the time was that the election of 2008 seemed to be much more driven by support of Barack Obama than by opposition to John McCain.
I’ve just finished looking at our sales statistics from October 1 to October 15, 2008, and they show the same pattern, broadly speaking. During the past two weeks, 85.4% of our 2008 presidential election-related sales have been of items in support of Barack Obama. Just 14.6% of our our election 2008 sales have been anti-McCain or anti-Palin sales. That’s a smaller gap than what we saw in the spring, but it’s still a huge gap.
I’m pretty confident that this difference represents something real; over just the past two weeks, we’ve sold many thousands of items, making the mass of sales large enough to swamp out the oddities of random buyers. To the extent that our website would introduce bias, it would be in the anti-McCain direction, since over the past few months our editorial position has been much more anti-McCain than pro-Obama. Our own sales stats lead me to believe that on the Democratic side of the equation (we simply won’t sell items that support the Republican agenda), the election seems to be motivated mainly by support for Barack Obama. Messages of opposition to John McCain are secondary.