WASHINGTON - If you want to know who is going to win the U.S. presidential election, take a look at the campaign souvenirs people are buying.
While Americans complain about suffering from election overload, they are snapping up campaign buttons and T-shirts - and a store owner in Washington says sales are a pretty accurate indicator of who voters plan to elect November 8th to be their next president.
Just a few blocks from the real White House is White House Gifts. The souvenir store is teeming with customers, eager to see the end of this election season – but wanting something to remember it by.
Mariam Khan, a naturalized American citizen, originally from Zimbabwe, says there's been a great deal of curiosity and wonder overseas about the U.S. election. But she’s tired of the dirty politics.
“It’s going on and on and on, all the name calling. I feel like it’s moved so far away from policies and into issues that don’t really matter”
And yet, there was Mariam buying T-shirts, bobble heads and fridge magnets.
Susan Levin says regardless of who wins, it’s already a historic election, and she wants coffee mugs and T-shirts as keepsakes.
“I’m getting things that are not going to be here after the election,” said Levin.
Coffee mug/T-shirt poll
It will be over soon, but it’s been a profitable election season for store owner Jim Warlick who has been tracking sales of presidential campaign buttons for 35 years. For example, after the Republican and Democratic conventions in August, Warlick told us:
“It was 62 [percent] Hillary, 38 Trump.”
And then after the debates: “It was 57 Hillary and 43 Trump. So it’s narrowed, yes it has.”
Interestingly enough, the hottest sellers in the 2016 election season will not be on Tuesday's ballot. Warlick promoted a legacy souvenir line to take advantage of President Barack Obama’s popularity... until his staff told him they were running out of Michelle Obama T-shirts.
“Actually Michelle was more popular than the president, so we started doing a Michelle line, and so the two legacies of the president and the first lady are selling more than both Clinton and Trump,” according to Warlick.
Warlick has correctly predicted the outcome of every presidential race since 1980 – except in 2000 when Al Gore lost by a recount to George W. Bush. Based on souvenir sales and his gut instincts, Warlick decided to pull the trigger last week and placed a sizeable order for the 2017 inauguration. He broke with protocol and shared his prediction with Voice of America.
“I’ve been pretty well on target, and I watch the polls quite a bit daily and my merchandise daily, so I would say it’s going to be Clinton.”
Either Warlick is making a costly mistake, or he has proof that people do vote with their pocketbooks.
Warlick, who loves what he does, says he can’t wait for the inauguration, scheduled January 20th, when the 45th president is officially sworn in. After that, the 2020 election can’t come soon enough.
“Oh yes, yes! Christmas comes every four years for us!”