One thing which struck me when I drove cross country was how few bumper stickers I saw for the current presidential campaign. I did see a number of cars sporting Kerry (and Kerry-Edwards) decals and even (or all delicious ironies, mostly in the Northeast) vehicles with pro-Bush bumper stickers. Indeed, I saw more cars sporting anti-Bush sticker than the combined number of vehicles promoting Democratic presidential candidates.
When I returned to Cincinnati for Thanksgiving, I made a similar observation, precious few bumper stickers for the current campaign, many more so for the previous one. And returning to LA, I see the same thing. Yesterday, when driving all over the city (well, between Culver City and Hollywood), I saw one Obama ’08 bumper sticker and several supporting Kerry. But, there were more anti-Bush bumper stickers than pro-Democratic presidential candidates. Today was more of the same, one “Jail Bush” sticker and an pro-Obama one.
While I have seen a handful of Hillary ’08 bumper stickers, it’s been a while since I’ve seen one in LA.
Now, while we can’t measure the level of a candidate’s support by the number of bumper stickers we see, nor does the relative amount of the various candidates’ bumper stickers accurately reflect their support in the general populace, but the number of bumper stickers does measure the degree of a candidates’ support. That is, they show where the energy, the political passion, is.
For the Democrats, given the number of anti-Bush stickers and those supporting the ticket the president defeated in the previous election, it seems that their energy is still directed against him. Not a good sign for their party’s (eventual) nominee less a year out from the next election. They really hate a guy who can’t run for reelection, whose term expires is just over a year.
The number of Obama stickers seems to reflect the intensity of his support among those backing the Illinois Senator. When I talk to his supporters, their faces light up as they outline their man’s qualities, his charisma and eloquence. They believe he has the potential to unite the country.
The relative paucity of Hillary stickers suggests that while she is her party’s frontrunner, there’s not much enthusiasm for her candidacy. As Toby Harnden, the Washington Bureau Chief for London’s Sunday Telegraph wrote after a cross country trip surveying the American political landscape:
While we found many people who hated Mrs Clinton, those who loved her were few and far between. Certainly, many said they would vote for her, but the reasons cited tended to be her status as the top Democrat, the fact that she was battle-tested against Republicans and – for some women – the fact that she would be the first female president.
In this regard, it seems that Mrs. Clinton is not much different from her husband’s successor in the White House, at least in the latter half of his second term. There are many, many people who hate them, but very few who love them.
Whether or not we’ll see more bumper stickers for the current crop of candidates as we get closer to the actual date of the primaries has yet to be seen. But, from my survey of bumper stickers in recent months, it seems those on the left hate the incumbent president to a greater degree than they love any of the Democrats bidding to succeed him.