This past March, I looked into the number of searches made by people looking for various forms of gear at CafePress featuring the names of various possible Republican presidential contenders for 2012. (If you log in to CafePress.com, you can find out how many people searched for bumper stickers, buttons or shirts for sale featuring any term over the past day.) At the time, I found that ten times as many people were searching for gear with the names of either John McCain or Sarah Palin as were searching for any other possible 2012 presidential contender.
On March 18, for example, a 41% share of CafePress searches for 8 possible 2012 runners was gobbled up by searches for Sarah Palin gear. 38% of those searches were for John McCain gear. 6% were searching for Bobby Jindal swag, 4% each for Rudy Giuliani and Mike Huckabee, 3% for Ron Paul, 2% for Mitt Romney and a mere 0.7% for Newt Gingrich stickers, buttons or shirts.
At the time, I chalked up the dominance of McCain and Palin gear searches to nostalgia for a not-long-past race. But since then, a lot of political water has flowed under the bridge. How do matters stack up now for those 8 possible presidential contenders?
I just finished checking CafePress search statistics carried out yesterday (August 29, 2009), and here’s the distribution (again, a percentage of searches for all 8 contenders):
36% John McCain, 35% Sarah Palin, 8% Ron Paul, 6% Mitt Romney, 4% Mike Huckabee, 4% Bobby Jindal, 4% Newt Gingrich, 2% Rudy Giuliani.
We could spend a fair amount of time talking about changes at the bottom of the pack, including the rise of Ron Paul to the top of the bottom. But really, the take away lesson is that months later, nearly a year after the presidential election of 2008, John McCain and Sarah Palin are still the top objects of searches for GOP presidential name swag. Are people really hoping that the pair (or some part of them) run again? Or is interest in the next set of GOP 2012 presidential contenders so low that the volume of after-the-fact memorabilia collector swamps it all?