The Market as Predictor: Obama Souvenir Sales Slump Along With Obama Economy

Forget the polls and the focus groups. Forget the tedious chatter of elitist pundits or the pious dreck of pompous editorialists. The Washington Times reports that sales of Obama memorabilia and souvenirs are in a “tailspin” as the nation’s economy continues to stall out.

In a downtown D.C. gift shop, a table teems with T-shirts, squared off and neatly folded. On one row: an iconic pop art-inspired image of President Obama, culled from a campaign poster, atop the one-word caption “Hope.” On the next: a smiling, waving George W. Bush, backed by the U.S. flag, behind a caption asking, “Miss Me Yet?”

One nation. Two shirts.

Polls, focus groups and fundraising tallies have their place — but if you really want to take the electorate’s pulse, go souvenir shopping. Money talks, and as the economy limps, our leaders snipe, and the rough beast of our divided government slouches toward next year’s presidential election, the political memorabilia tills have a tale to tell: For the president, it’s a scary one.

Makes sense. If Obama-themed stuff isn’t selling very well, that certainly doesn’t portend well for his reelection bid next year. If you can’t sell the Tee-shirts or the Bobble-heads, you’re probably gonna have a hard time selling the candidate too.

Downtown shopkeepers and cart vendors near the Mall said last week that Obama-related sales had significantly slowed — in part because of a traditional August tourism lull, in part due to the president’s sagging approval ratings.

Before Mr. Obama’s inauguration, his Gallup poll approval ratings hovered between 60 and 70 percent. The corresponding souvenir market was white-hot — so much so that Jim Warlick, a memorabilia retailer who got his start hawking Ronald Reagan inaugural buttons in 1980, opened a store downtown devoted solely to the incoming president.

Now, that market is as sluggish as the nation’s economy.

As any Econ 101 student can explain, markets tell us more about the future and where we’re headed than they do about the past and where we’ve been.

If the souvenir market – and Jared Bernstein – are correct, Obama is headed for a one-term presidency.

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  • SigFan

    Pretty soon you won’t be able to give Obama memorabilia to Goodwill for resale.You may even have to pay someone to take it off your hands.

    • Spartacus

      Those shirts will wind up being donated to relief agencies servicing third world countries. Liberals will then claim it proves he’s enormously popular in those countries.

  • mickey_moussaoui

    “One Term” too many.

    SigFan, that Obama memorabilia crap should be considered hazardous waste.

    • SigFan

      That same thought crossed my mind just as I read your post.  I wonder how many people are scrambling to peel the Obama stickers off their cars these days.

      • Spartacus

        Probably not many. Most of those cars were taken out of circulation during cash for clunkers.

  • mikemc1970

    The Obama disappoint MINTS are selling well around here.

  • DopeyDem

    At this pace he can bring back BillyBeer and make it successful.

  • Proof

    I first noticed the lagging sales in Obama memorabilia as far back as June 2009.

    On a related note, tiramisu sales are up.

  • flamemeister

    We’ll have Obama souvenirs for a long time, in the way dogs leaves “souvenirs” in people’s yards.

    • Proof

      It’s from his thin résumé as a lawyer…kind of a “Sue veneer”.

  • VocalYokel

    Shouldn’t the Obama merchandise belong to the masses and be given away free?

    Think of the children and the poor idolizing proletariat and other Obamadorers who could worship him ad nauseum if only there were a level playing field.

    It is reprehensible that the capitalists would stoop so low as to restrict the equal distribution of the image of the Leftards messiah by selfishly attempting to trade it for filthy American lucre.

    I urge Congress to act immediately in order that a program (or three) be enacted to right this injustice and restore the rights of the idolatry challenged.

  • kbiel

    Probably just more of that bad luck that Obama has been blaming the bad economy on.