Story URL: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/chicago/news.aspx?id=100871
Story Retrieval Date: 5/21/2013 3:59:31 PM CST
Forget about the polls, 7-Eleven uses coffee cups to gauge the presidential race.
Forget the polls, focus on the cups
Use your morning cup of coffee as a political statement.
That’s what 7-Eleven hopes you do as Election Day draws near. The convenience store chain allows customers to choose Obama or McCain coffee coffee cups. There are also traditional cups for those undecided or politically private customers.
In downtown Chicago it’s clearly Obama country.
“We’re almost out of Obama cups and we still have a lot of McCain left,” said Meriana Messish, a worker at 7-Eleven at 216 W. Jackson Blvd.
It is the same story at most downtown locations.
“We sell Obama by way more. I’ve only seen people buy the McCain cups like twice a week here,” said Marlen Rojo of the 318 W. Adams St. store.
7-Eleven keeps track of the number of cups chosen and tallies their unscientific poll online.
The “7-Election” promotion was started during the 2000 campaign. The company saw Bush cups outselling Gore by just 1 percent. The 2004 results of both the actual election and the 7-Election were almost identical, according to 7-Eleven’s Web site.
Currently in the store’s national tally, Obama leads McCain 59 percent to 41 percent. In 7-Eleven’s state-by-state analysis, Obama holds a significant lead in the swing states of Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana. The only states registering a McCain lead are North Carolina, West Virginia and New Hampshire.
One complication of the coffee cup sweepstakes, which hasn’t affected the accuracy of the outcome, is that 7-Eleven isn’t everywhere, particularly in some McCain strongholds. The chain reports results for 30 states, but none in 20. Those 20 are Upper Midwest and a swath of the South.
Other Chicago area businesses are taking advantage of the political climate as well. Northbrook deli Max and Benny’s began selling cookies bearing the likeness of each candidate after the conventions.
As of Tuesday, the deli’s cookie tally is 60 percent Obama, 20 percent Palin, 15 percent McCain and 5 percent Biden, according to manager Paul Richards.
The deli has seen a growing interest in the cookies.
“It becomes a point of conversation with people …. it has now got a life of its own,” Richards said.
The deli has an Election Day event planned at which the final tallies of the cookie count will be released.
The jury is still out on whether the promotion will attract new customers. Mid-morning and afternoon coffee sales in downtown Chicago were sluggish Wednesday.
"Most people stick with the regular cups," Rojo said. "There is no difference in sales."