Obama Ahead in All-Important Cookie Poll

Ohio PR Stunt Has Predicted Winner Since Inception

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BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Conventional polls this year are fraught with doubts -- from the "Bradley Effect" to the elusive cellphone-only households. But one poll based in the all-important swing state of Ohio has never failed since its inception in 1984, and it has Barack Obama with an almost insurmountable lead over John McCain.

The Busken Cookie Poll, in which the chain of Cincinnati-area retail bakeries sells cookies bearing cartoon images of each candidate, as of Thursday morning had Mr. Obama ahead 6,477 to 3,090 -- a 68% to 32% margin. Daily updates can be found at www.busken.com.

Unscientific? Perhaps. But Brian Busken, VP-marketing of the family business, said that since the poll's inception in 1984, it has accurately predicted the winner of the presidential election every four years and never been further than 4 percentage points from the final popular vote tally nationwide. (Note: While the website shows a smiling Obama cookie and a frowning McCain cookie, the cookies sold in stores have both smiling.)

"We've never seen a spread like this before in the numbers," Mr. Busken said. "I don't know if there's going to be a crumbslide or not. ... We may still predict the winner, but probably by way too many cookies."

Already there are allegations of irregularities. Commenters on a story at the website of the Cincinnati Business Courier allege some bookstores have Obama cookies up front, McCain cookies in the back, and that Remke stores in Northern Kentucky had run out of the McCain cookies.

Mr. Busken said wholesale sales such as those referenced in the comments don't count. Nor does a recent bulk purchase of 400 McCain cookies by Rob Portman, former Republican congressman and White House budget director. If Acorn buys cookies online for the Dallas Cowboys and their cheerleaders, those don't count either. Only cookies sold in the 11 Ohio stores tracked by the poll count.

Busken milks the poll, of course, for all the publicity it can get, and has incorporated it into outdoor ads from the Creative Department, Cincinnati. The chain will advertise cookie-poll results on the Norton Digital Network in the area during the four days leading up to the election.
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