McCain and Obama Should Shop for Votes at Sears

A new Zogby poll shows McCain is losing support among traditionally Republican shoppers.

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If the next time you turn on your TV, it flashes news clips of Sen. Barack Obama shopping at Target for a basketball outfit or Sen. John McCain tugging wife Cindy through Sears for a Craftsman hammer, you can probably blame pollster John Zogby. Because the election analyst who first discovered that he could determine voters' political leanings by where they shop has provided Whispers with a new poll of retail outlets, from Neiman Marcus to Boscov's. Bottom line: Both candidates should start shopping for support. McCain the most. Zogby finds a remarkable shift in the politics of shoppers. Those trolling through stores like Marshall's and JCPenney, whose shoppers voted to re-elect President Bush in 2004, have shifted to Obama. Browsers in stores that favored Bush over Sen. John Kerry—Wal-Mart, Sears, Kohl's, and Boscov's—are deserting the GOP. Just consider Wal-Mart, which was practically Bush campaign headquarters in his elections. In 2004, he had a 25 percent advantage over Kerry. But McCain's lead is just 14 percent. And among Sears voters, where Bush beat Kerry by 41 percent, McCain's lead is 14 percent. Zogby reasons that the "vital center has moved away from the Republicans." In fact, of the 12 stores Zogby polled, shoppers at only four lean toward McCain, and Obama owns the upscale department store voters at Neiman's, Macy's, and Bloomies. Zogby, whose new book about the transforming American Dream, The Way We'll Be, is out this month, had some retail advice for the candidates. To show he's one of them, Obama should hit a Target or Marshall's. And he should invade GOP stores. "It couldn't possibly hurt to show up buying a new Stairmaster or lawnmower at Sears," Zogby tells us. For the McCains, he suggests trips to stores in which the candidate should be winning or at least doing better. "The McCains need to look at Marshall's and Target, but the Republican standard-bearer is underperforming at former strongholds Sears, Kohl's, and JCPenney. Where else to buy a hammer or some deck furniture?"