Vote at 7/11… Kinda

Coffee Franchise Runs Cup Campaign

seven-eleven-cupsObama or Romney? This question that is not only going through all voters minds, but coffee drinkers as well. As campaign season heats up, so do coffee sales at 7/11 where they offer you the chance to “cast your vote” for President.

This will be the fourth “7-Election” held by 7/11’s in 35 states throughout the country. Customers can “cast their vote” by purchasing either a blue Obama or red Romney coffee cup. Votes are tallied by a barcode that is placed on each cup, which is scanned when you check out and pay. Results are then tallied and posted at the end of each day on the 7/11 website. Currently, according to 7/11’s website, President Obama is leading the polls with 60 percent over Governor Romney’s 40 percent. Which leaves the question; will coffee drinkers yet again predict the winner of the presidential race?

The past three “7-Elections” have surprisingly predicted the actual winner of the Presidency. As you can see in the chart, posted in a news release on the 7/11 website, the coffee drinkers have not been far off from the actual popular vote.

Dr. Michael Phillips-Anderson, a professor of political communication here at the University, explains how although a coincidence, the polls mean very little, “There are too many factors to make it actually predictive. Since we don’t have a national vote that matters, national polls of any sort are suspect. The 7/11 coffee cup race does not take into account likely voters, population distribution, or electoral college math.”

Dr. David Payne, a professor of psychology here at the University, goes further to explain the coincidence of all three predictions. “7/11’s Coffee Cup success rate may not mean anything at all. Based on what statisticians call the ‘binomial distribution,’ three out of three successes are expected one eightth of the time, whenever somebody tries flipping three fair coins. Therefore, 50/50 chance alone is a perfectly good reason for the 100 percent success rate.”

In a news release, posted on September 13, 2012 on 7/11’s website, CEO and President of the company clarifies, “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. 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.”

Lucy Russo, a psychology major at the University, believes that the “7-Election” does tend to cater to people who follow politics. “I think people who follow politics are definitly more inclined to go out of their way to buy coffee from 7/11 in order to purchase these cups because it’s another thing to showcase to everyone else who they are voting for.”

A 7/11 poll released after the first presidential debate shows Russo’s comments to be true. Sales in three swing states changed, as national polls did. On Oct. 4, the day right after the first debate, President Obama’s lead of 63 percent to 57 percent dropped to 57 percent (Obama) over 43 percent (Romney).

“Publicity is everything, especially in these occasions,” Russo commented. “It’s almost like people buying products their favorite celebrity put out. This is another way people can represent and support their political side and candidate running. I know someone who went out and bought coffee just to buy the cup of the candidate they support!”

“Most people enjoy feeling connected to a larger community of people, or to a cause that is bigger than themselves.” Payne explains, “Choosing a coffee cup is an inexpensive and almost effortless way to express and enhance that feeling, and it is not likely to start a lengthy argument with anybody the way political discussions can.”

The President has gained some momentum back, and as of Oct. 10 he was leading the polls with a 60 percent rate over 40 percent. However, there are still two debates and four weeks left until the actual Election Day. So don’t forget to grab your candidate’s cup of 7/11 coffee and go vote on November 6.