Last week a Washington D.C. Republican consultant happily told my husband that Romney yard signs had overtaken Obama signs in what is usually his very Democrat leaning, upscale neighborhood in Fairfax County, Virginia.
Situated close to our nation’s capitol, Fairfax County is a fierce battleground within a must-win battleground state for both Obama and Romney.
After the consultant reported this positive development, my husband confirmed how neighborhood observations can, in fact be reliable indicators of larger trends by proceeding to tell him “Myra’s 2004 Election Day Cupcake Story.”
Later, when my husband told me he shared this amusing little story, I thought it would be fun to share it with the world.
On Election Day 2004, (President Bush vs. John Kerry) I was manning a sidewalk table handing out Republican sample ballots, just outside an elementary school in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia where I had voted earlier.
Now, Old Town Alexandria is a Democrat stronghold, and the few Republicans who live there are a frustrated bunch who usually end up drinking heavily on election nights.
It was about 4:00 pm in the afternoon when my husband called, telling me he had heard news reports (later debunked) that national exit polls were showing Kerry cruising to victory. Having worked on Bush’s campaign I was not pleased.
Shortly thereafter, two young women walked by my table and I heard one say to the other, “Did you buy a Kerry cupcake?” She answered,” Yes, I already ate it and it was delicious.” Upon hearing this I asked, “Where did you buy the Kerry cupcake?” They pointed to a table near the voting entrance that I had overlooked.
Apparently the PTA, taking advantage of their school’s status as a voting place was holding a bake sale. Prominent among the sweet treats were trays of cupcakes with “Kerry” written in blue icing.
Representing the interests of the other side, I asked if there were any Bush cupcakes for sale. The young PTA mom manning the table bent over and whispered in my ear, “Don’t tell anyone but I sold out of all the Bush cupcakes.”
Upon hearing this surprising news, I kept my composure, walked back to my sidewalk table and immediately called my husband. I told him that despite what he had heard about the exit polls, Bush was going to win reelection because if the PTA bake sale had sold out of Bush cupcakes in Old Town, Alexandria that was an indicator far more reliable than any exit poll.
Even more significant was the PTA mom’s stern whispered warning, “Don’t tell anyone.” As if selling out of Bush cupcakes was highly sensitive national security information.
My interpretation of her warning was there were droves of loyal Democrats voting for Bush, but afraid to admit this until they were safely inside the privacy of the voting booth. What else could explain trays of unsold Kerry cupcakes?
So whether it be PTA cupcakes or Romney yard signs in formerly blue neighborhoods, all politics really is local and these symbols can accurately reflect national trends.
Finally, if you are surrounded by loyal Democrats but secretly plan on voting for Romney, trust me, you will have lots of company, but “don’t tell anyone.”