This past week, anti-Obama merchandise outpaced sales of pro-Obama merchandise 79 percent to 21 percent at the online clothing store CafePress, which has been tracking sales of election-relevant items.
CafePress, an online custom merchandise shop, launched its 2012 “Election Meter” at the beginning of November but has been tracking the trends in candidate merchandise sales since April.
According to the clothier, the “Meter” successfully predicted President Obama’s victory in 2008. This week’s data represents a stark contrast to Obama’s sales during the 2008 election cycle.
“As CafePress saw four years ago (and four years before that), the T-shirt economy has a history of predicting presidential winners,” said CafePress Director of Marketing Marc Cowlin in April. “In 2008, Obama was a consistent fan favorite on CafePress, surpassing sales of McCain t-shirts and gifts by more than 30 percent in the weeks leading up to the election.”
According to the Real Clear Politics polling average, when matched against an unnamed Republican, Obama leads by a razor-thin 43.8 percent to 43 percent.
The “Meter” also features buying trends reflective of the 2012 presidential horse race. Currently Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain has a plurality with 39 percent of election-related sales.
While Cain is in the lead, his trend has actually been slipping, with sales dropping by 62 percent since mid-October — when he has well above 50 percent — and 38 percent since last week. Indeed, national polls have reflected a similar decline, but keep him in the pack.
Texas Republican Rep. Ron Paul’s merchandise sold the second-best, coming in at 35 percent. Obama gear was in third with nine percent of sales, followed by former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney with seven percent, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich at six percent, Texas Gov. Rick Perry at three percent and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann at one percent.
Former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum all netted zero percent of sales.
The Real Clear Politics average, in contrast, shows Gingrich currently leading in Republican primary polls at 22 percent, followed by Romney at 21.6 percent and Cain at 18.4 percent. Perry has 7.6 percent of the vote, while Paul has 7.6 percent, Bachmann 5.2 percent, Huntsman 2.2 percent and Santorum 1.8 percent.
“The data we feature on the election meter is a real-time look at sentiment around the election,” said Cowlin said in a statement. “Buying behavior is timely and reflects what’s happening on the campaign trail.”
Update: In an email to TheDC, Cowlin wrote that Gingrich is now matching Romney in sales at 8 percent, adding that sales figures demonstrate which candidates boast the most passionate supporters.
“Ron Paul followers are known for their steadfast support and that has certainly translated into strong product sales … the folks who design and purchase products with us are some of the most passionate in the world,” he wrote, clarifying that his customer base does not have a political bent. “CafePress is a conduit for authentic self-expression, and, for that reason, our growing customer base is comprised of a combination of supporters for every party and political movement.”