Former Alaska Governor and likely presidential candidate Sarah Palin came in second and third in national surveys conducted recently by The Washington Post/ABC and Gallup, respectively.
But what if her potential impact in an election could be measured by more unconventional methods–such as merchandise sales and movie tickets sold?
If the demand for Palin-themed merchandise on CafePress.com and a documentary, titled “The Undefeated, about her are any indication, it may be more accurate to measure how potential voters spend their money, especially in a struggling economy, than how they answer a pollster’s questions.
“The GOP candidate pick revealed by the CafePress Cultural Barometer hasn’t even declared her candidacy yet – and that’s Sarah Palin,” Marc Cowlin, Director of Marketing for CafePress told HUMAN EVENTS. “Based on our users’ designs, it looks like they want to see an Obama vs. Palin match-up in 2012.”
According to Cowlin, Palin-themed merchandise makes up a whopping 65 percent of Obama challenger sales and 34 percent of all 2012 election product sales, which far surpasses all other GOP candidates and potential candidates.
These trends were first noted last month on the Illinois Review blog.
Cowlin said that in 2000 and 2004, during the early days of the company, CafePress decided to capture limited sales data during an election cycle. In both of these years, CafePress saw an overwhelming number of George W. Bush themed products come through, which led them to predict Bush’s election in both elections. After the 2004 election, CafePress formally developed their “Cultural Barometer” metric.
In 2008, using their “Cultural Barometer,” CafePress predicted that Obama would win the election over John McCain because Obama-themed merchandise surpassed sales of McCain items by more than 30 percent in the weeks leading up to the 2008 election, according to numbers provided by CafePress.
“Our theory was that people vote with their wallets – it’s one thing to answer a poll, its another thing altogether to show your support by creating and uploading a design or making a purchase and declaring your support by wearing a t-shirt or placing a bumper sticker on your car.” Cowlin said. “Purchasing makes your choice public and very personal. After each election, as we saw that our predictions were correct, we knew we had a unique and entertaining polling opportunity on our hands – the Cultural Barometer was born.”
The same can also be said for those who have paid to see a documentary about Palin’s record of reform in Alaska.
The documentary, “The Undefeated,” opened extremely strong by grossing approximately $65,000 in just ten theaters in its opening weekend. After making approximately $25,000 in its second weekend, the movie made approximately $5,000 last weekend in four theaters.
These numbers do not tell the whole story.
Unlike other documentaries, “The Undefeated” performed well enough at the box-office that the film will be made accessible to approximately 75 million homes, beginning on September 1, through Video-on-Demand and Pay-Per-View through major cable and satellite companies such as DIRECTV, DISH Network, and Time Warner Cable, according to VIctory Film Group, which produced the movie.
Furthermore, DVDs of “The Undefeated” will hit shelves nationwide on October 4th in stores such as Walmart. Around 250,000 copies of the DVD have already been ordered.
“Since the film opened in select markets across the country on July 15th we have been inundated with requests from people wanting the film to be made available in their market,” saod Trevor Drinkwater, CEO of ARC Entertainment in a statement.
According to filmmaker Stephen Bannon, “the strong audience reaction” led his production and distribution groups to determine “there is overwhelming demand for us to get this film out broadly enough to cover the entire nation in September and October.”
According to Bannon, what makes “The Undefeated” different is that without any media buys and through social networking, enough companies were convinced that “The Undefeated” would sell that they agreed to put it on pay-per-view and order DVDs.
Further, Bannon said that other documentaries, such as those made by Al Gore and Michael Moore, spent tens of millions of dollars in advertising but had 100,000 less copies of their DVDs ordered by capitalistic stores.
Palin has not officially declared her candidacy yet, but potential Palin voters may already be voting early and often with their wallets by going to the movies and purchasing merchandise.
This would also suggest that should Palin announce a presidential run, she would have a ready-made network of donors willing to donate to her potential campaign.
Election 2012 merchandise on CafePress can be found here. Samples of GOP-themed merchandise that are on sale at CafePress can also be seen below.