On the eve of the first Election 2012 debates in Denver, Colorado, and with the actual election mercifully just over one month away, all of the pundits, politicos and pollsters are making their predictions.
National Journal, a “nonpartisan” Washington news magazine, has the race tied at 47-percent among likely voters. Yesterday, the Rasmussen Report said the incumbent has a one-point edge. Real Clear Politics is more generous, giving Obama a four-point lead nationwide, which, according to PolicyMic.com, means that the President “can afford to relax these next five weeks.”
But who cares what Rasmussen thinks when 7-Eleven is making predictions? That’s right. Even retailers are getting in on this seemingly never-ending presidential election process.
The other day, while stopping by my local 7-Eleven for a half-gallon of milk, I noticed a new sign in the window announcing the convenience store chain’s 7-Election Presidential Coffee Cup Poll.
Every election since the 2000 debacle between George W. Bush and Al Gore, 7-Eleven stores throughout the country have offered customers the option of red coffee cups for the Republican candidate and blue for the Democrat, each bearing the respective candidate’s name. Undecided? Just use a regular 7-Eleven coffee cup, duh. Store managers tally the numbers — or at least they are supposed to — ignoring the undecideds, something the campaigns can’t afford to do.
The results of 7-Eleven’s 7-Election Presidential Coffee Cup polls have been impressively accurate.
In the 2000 election, 7-Eleven’s customers had Bush over Gore by just one percentage point, and Bush took the Oval Office with a half a percentage point lead (and please, let’s not get into all that again). In 2004, Bush beat Kerry by two 7-Eleven points and won the actual election by 2.4 points. And in 2008, 7-Eleven gave it to Barack Obama with 52-percent of the vote, leaving John McCain with 46 percent. The Election Day 2008 results: Obama 52.9% and McCain 45.7%. Not bad for a chain best known for its Dr. Pepper Slurpees.
It’s too early to get any, er, scientific data out of 7-Eleven’s 2012 poll, but we did ask around at some of 7-Eleven’s Pennsylvania locations. Way out yonder in Butler County, which McCain won handily in 2008 with 63% of the general election vote, a cashier at the Butler City 7-Eleven tells me that the Romney cups have been selling “way faster” than the Obamas. An employee at the 7-Eleven in Fox Run (also in Butler County) reports similar findings.
Rigi Koshy, manager of the 7-Eleven at 3401 Lancaster Avenue in Obama-friendly West Philadelphia, has not tallied any votes yet but says that he has run out of Obama cups several times. Not so with the Romney cups. But, says Koshy, he can’t order a single party’s cups. Each box contains 150 each of the cardboard Obama and Romney cups. A worker at a Northeast Philadelphia 7-Eleven declares an unofficial Obama coffee cup landslide there as well but hasn’t done an exact count. Hopefully 7-Eleven will recycle all those wasted Romney cups.
Meanwhile, the on-the-ball manager of the 7-Eleven in Glenside, Montgomery County has done a count of September’s numbers for the 7-Eleven 7-Election Presidential Coffee Cup Poll. He says that his location sold 616 Obama cups and 366 Romney cups last month. An easy win for the prez, sure. But compared to Obama’s 2008 general election numbers, he may be slipping in Montgomery County by two points.
And 7-Eleven isn’t the only Philadelphia retailer joining in the polling madness. Chestnut Hill’s Night Kitchen Bakery is running its own straw poll featuring $3.50 Obama or Romney iced vanilla shortbread cookies. Based on early returns, Obama doesn’t have to show up for a Schmitter at Chestnut Hill’s McNally’s Tavern to rally the troops anytime soon. After eight weeks of sales, Obama has picked up a whopping 87% of the cookie-eating public’s vote. Not too crumby.
[Photo and additional reporting by Marina Lamanna.]