I have noticed a few things while driving around the Minneapolis/Saint Paul area, home of the 2008 Republican National Convention. There do not appear to be any signs of support for the Republican candidate. I think this is an indicator of a document trend, the "enthusiasm gap" between Barack Obama and John McCain. Though the majority of polls have been showing Obama with a modest 5 point lead, msnbc reports:
But the most revealing numbers in the survey were the ones measuring voter enthusiasm: 61% of Democrats said they were more enthusiastic than usual about voting in this year's election, while just 35% of Republicans said that.
What does that have to do with bumper stickers? Well, my job sends me all over the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area. This was the route that I drove one day last week, driving over 100 miles.
View Larger Map
About 2 weeks ago I happened to notice an Obama '08 bumper sticker. For some reason it struck me and I decided to look for a bumper sticker for McCain. I didn't see any that day, but I vowed to start paying attention to bumper stickers on the highway. To this date I have not seen a single bumper sticker supporting McCain. On the other hand, since I started keeping track, I have noticed eight Obama bumper stickers. This isn't a significant statistic, as it's one person's observation, but I thought it was interesting. In addition, I also have seen yard signs supporting Obama. I haven't kept track but I would guess I've seen five or more signs representing Obama. Again I have yet to see a sign supporting McCain in a single yard.
Now many factors could come into play here. I will state that I am an Obama supporter, so my bias could play some factor. It could also be that McCain's supports don't want to stick anything on their cars, or feel that bumper stickers are a poor way to support their candidate. In fact that was my thought at first, but then I started noticing several Bush/Cheney '04 stickers. Well to me that seemed to indicate that my initial thoughts were probably not the best explanation. The more I think about it, the enthusiasm gap seems to be the most likely explanation. It seems that Obama's supports are willing to take the time to put a bumper sticker on, while McCain's supporters don't.
Here is another interesting indicator of enthusiasm. Using Google trends, I compared the search volume of obama, mccain, barack obama, and john mccain. These results were searches which originated in Minnesota and took place within the last 12 months.
As you can see, obama has over three times the search volume of mccain, and full names yield a a similiar search disparity. The odd thing I found in the results is that the spikes in search volume for obama correspond to the primaries. Obama's overseas trip results in no obvious increase in search volume.
The comparison seems to show that people who search using Google appear much more interested in Obama then McCain. This could be the result of Obama being the lesser known of the two candidates. It could also be that McCain supporters use bookmarks or just type in the websites they wish to go to, where Obama supports use google as their bookmarks.
Though neither of these observations can be taken as scientific, they are in some ways telling. I think coupled with the enthusiasm gap that is evident from reliable polling numbers, it's an interesting trend. I did see one other Republican bumper sticker recently. It might not mean a whole lot, but it may sum up many peoples feelings on the GOP as of late, and it was kind of humerous.