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As the Nov. 6 presidential election approaches, anticipation continues to brew as political advertisements and signs of support for the presidential candidates are everywhere.
Bumper stickers, lawn signs and campaign buttons are typical campaign advertising, but 7-Eleven convenience stores offer customers the chance to show their political support with their morning coffee.
Since Sept. 6, 7-Eleven stores in 34 states have participated in “7-Eleven’s 7-Election Presidential Coffee Cup Poll” an informal survey, which allows patrons to show support for the presidential candidate of their choice. Customers at participating stores can “vote” by choosing cups endorsing either former Gov. Mitt Romney or President Barack Obama. The results of the survey are tracked when the cups are scanned at the register. The percentages, both national and by state, are published daily on 7-Election.com.
For customers who do not wish to participate in the survey, 7-Eleven offers a “non-partisan” option, regular chain coffee cups. Sales of the non-partisan cups do not count toward the survey results.
7-Eleven has conducted this unscientific poll during the two months before presidential elections since 2000.
“While we have never billed 7-Election as scientific or statistically valid, it is astounding just how accurate this simple count-the-cups poll has been – election after election,” 7-Eleven, Inc. President and CEO, Joe DePinto said.
The survey numbers seemed to be spot on in the presidential election between Obama and U.S. Sen. John McCain in 2008. The final results of the national 7-Election poll were 46 percent McCain and 52 percent Obama, while the percentages in the real election were 45.7 percent McCain and 52.9 percent Obama, according to the press release.
“Each day, almost 7 million Americans visit our neighborhood stores. Around 1 million of those purchase a cup of 7-Eleven coffee,” DePinto said. “We have had a lot of fun with it, and I hope we have encouraged people how important it is to vote in the real election.”
Five 7-Eleven stores are in the Syracuse area: Four in Onondaga County and one in Oswego County in Fulton. All of the stores participate in the poll, but none of the locations have store or county data posted. According to Margaret Chablis, public relations director for 7-Eleven, Inc. based in Dallas, “We are working on getting data posted in individual geographic areas. General area managers must hand process all of the data; however, we are able to tally survey results by county.”
According to Chablis, survey results for Oswego County through Tuesday are 53.8 percent blue (Obama) and 46.2 percent red (Romney). For Onondaga County, the results through Tuesday are 70.6 percent blue and 29.4 percent red.
According to the New York State Board of Elections website, as of April 1, Oswego County has 68,694 registered and active voters. Democrats represent 25.43 percent of active voters and Republicans represent 47.26 percent. Onondaga County, with 272,765 active voters, has 36.57 percent registered Democrats and 31.91 percent registered Republicans. Voters not registered to any political party make up 19.23 percent of active voters in Oswego County and 24.47 percent in Onondaga County.
National results of the 7-Election poll as of Thursday showed Obama at 58 percent and Romney at 42 percent. The Thursday Gallup poll showed the national election as 50 percent Obama, 44 percent Romney.
In New York State, the 7-Election results were 55 percent Obama, 45 percent Romney as of Thursday. A poll released by Quinnipiac University on Sept. 13 showed Obama at 62 percent and Romney at 34 percent in New York.
Chablis acknowledged that the poll is not necessarily an accurate gauge of what the numbers will be at the real voting sites in November.
“It’s something we do every presidential election,” Chablis said. “We hope it does raise awareness about the election and voting along with having some friendly competition and fun.”
Julie R., a cashier at the 7-Eleven in Fulton, who declined to give her last name, said she has not seen much fanfare over the 7-Election at her store.
“I haven’t noticed customers being particular about their cup choice much, I didn’t even realize the promotion was going on until people started coming to my register with Romney and Obama coffee cups,” Julie said.
“I think more of the morning customers are concerned with buying candidate cups,” Julie said. “Some people just aren’t interested in politics, some are.”
Samantha Edinger, 21, a senior majoring in biochemistry at Oswego State, said she stopped at the 7-Eleven in Fulton Monday but did not purchase a candidate cup, opting for a conventional cup instead.
“Elections are private for a reason,” Edinger said. “If you want to let people know what your political preference is, that’s your business. You don’t have to advertise it if you choose not to, because it causes too much controversy within a community.”
Edinger said 7-Eleven’s campaign has helped generate awareness. “It’s cool that they are trying to get people more interested in politics and the election. Or maybe they just want to sell more coffee.”
According to the press release, the company will continue to publish election results until Election Day.