Presidential Election Outlook: Will Americans Vote for Hope and P.F. Chang's?

P.F. ChangsJust a few short months ago, the presidential aspirations of former Gov. Mitt Romney seemed little more than a pipe dream. Having counted himself out of consideration by "47%" of the voters, victory looked like a mathematical impossibility.

No longer.

According to a recent "poll-of-polls" conducted by Real Clear Politics, the governor now edges out the president by a 0.9% spread -- 47.9 to 47.0 -- and leads in twice as many individual polls (e.g., Rasmussen, ABC News, AP, Politico) as he lags (CBS, Washington Times), to boot.

October Surprise

Do these numbers surprise you? They shouldn't. Just a couple of months ago, we here at DailyFinance introduced you to a new, somewhat off-the-wall, gauge of presidential-electoral success: The "Restaurant Sales" index.

Operating on the premise that Democrats are from Starbucks and Republicans are from Visa, and based on research highlighted in the L.A. Times, we took a look at several retail restaurant chains said to be favored by patrons from one political party or the other ...

the politics of eating out

And then we asked: Which chains have the most sales mojo going into voting season? Who's gaining in popularity, and could the fact that Chick-fil-A is seating more Republicans at its tables lately mean that tables are about to turn against President Obama as well?

What the Data Showed

Let's recap. Working off a Scarborough study of where likely voters tend to eat, we took the restaurant names above and compared their most recent quarterly sales data to how sales were trending last year. As described in the previous column, our theory was: "If a restaurant is doing well, and growing its sales strongly, then it stands to reason lots of people -- lots of voters -- are visiting said restaurant. And if this is the case, then perhaps the politics with which the restaurant is associated are also gaining favor."

Two months ago, results were mixed, but eateries favored by Romney-backers did appear to have an edge over restaurants leaning Democrat. As a result, we opined: "Pollsters showing President Obama continuing to hold a lead over Governor Romney may be in for a surprise."

Since then, the trend has become even more pronounced. These past few weeks, we've been hard at work, tallying up sales results as various publicly traded restaurant chains reported their third-quarter earnings results (all available for perusal on the SEC's website). Below we lay out a table showing you how the numbers looked back then, how they look now, and which party stands to benefit most from the growth in restaurant sales:

Politics restaurants

Chewing over the numbers

So how do things look today, two months after we first proposed this rather unusual "poll"?

With less than a week to go before voters pick their next president, we're seeing continued sales strength nearly across the board at Republic eateries (Bob Evans excepted). Democrat hang-outs The Cheesecake Factory and Dunkin' Donuts are doing just fine, too -- but not nearly as well as Republican strongholds Panera and Cracker Barrel.

Result: Based on the numbers, we're hereby going on record with a prediction: Mitt Romney wins the 2012 presidential election in a squeaker (or perhaps a "slider").*

*Caveat: Invented less than 100 days ago, this polling method has never been tested, much less backtested. It has a 0% record of historical accuracy -- but has also never been wrong. Margin of error is estimated at 100%.

Motley Fool contributor Rich Smith holds no position in any company mentioned above. He's a big fan of Cracker Barrel's chicken and dumplings, but also partial to Dunkin' Donuts coffee -- so politically, you can label him a swing eater.

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The rich don't have enough money to fund Democrat's out of control spending.

November 03 2012 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

People will no longer be voting for greed stricken republicons, and if they do well they deserve to loose thier jobs and work for lower wages and have thier social security taken away from them and also medicaid, what do these people think?
Why do people think the deserve a living wage and all the other perks of living in america,why cant they just work for .50 a day and a bowl of rice and just be happy with slave labor.

November 02 2012 at 7:13 AM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to mikcl1's comment

Obama is rich, and greedy.

November 02 2012 at 9:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rjmjlm711's comment

Republicans want to make all bush cuts permanent, Democrats wants to make them permament for everyone making less than one million dolllars. That means either way there will be 99% of us keeping our tax cut. Rommet is only greedy because he wants the investment income that he has to pay 15% tax on tax free and a 20% cut on the rest of them, which means next year if he is president he can make 20,000,000 and only pay about 3% tax on it while those making 30,000 will be paying 8% instead of 10%

November 02 2012 at 9:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down

Malarkey. People are sick and tired of no hope and no change.

November 02 2012 at 10:01 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I find every establishment mentioned in the article repugnant when it comes to food. America knows nothing of good food or how to make it. Rather you would just put up with the mediocre and be satisfied.

November 02 2012 at 1:25 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I cant wait for an obama win.Make those bad rich people pay up,so that I can continue to spend way more than I can afford just like our government,then go bankrupt,and live off the government.obama will take care of everyone.I cant wait for all my free stuff from the government.They owe me and I demand to get a free ride

November 02 2012 at 1:14 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

You can bet your bottom dollar Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Governor Chris Christie and Colin Powell's endorsement of President Obama is devastating news for the Romney camp. It's no surprise that many republicans have not been happy with their candidate since day one. This latest news is just another shot in the arm of vitamin B for the Obama camp, while it is a tranquilizer dart for the Romney camp. Obama's momentum is picking up speed like a runaway freight train. It has been widely reported that Romney's own camp is disappointed with his flip flopping issues and the image it has bestowed on their candidate. Flip flopping has become his legacy and has certainly had a negative impact on his campaign. As the election nears, the gap is rapidly widening in Obama's favor. I don't know how Mitt could possibly lie any more than he already has to gain additional support, but you can bet the American people have become wise to him. The Romney camp will be pulling every last rabbit out of their hat as a last ditch effort to remain in contention. Good luck Mitt. You're going to need a whole lot of it.

November 02 2012 at 12:32 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to gerbersmail's comment

Chris Christie did not endorse Obama. He said some nice things about Obama. But he did not endorse him.

November 02 2012 at 4:42 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Get with the liberal spin, Pagan.

November 02 2012 at 10:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Phil Collins

Obama's Libya Coverup going well so far as they don't want the Voters to know until after the election for sure.

November 01 2012 at 11:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Phil Collins's comment

Well if Obama gets in and the facts bear out what we believe to be true at this point, then impeachment proceedings will be in order.

November 01 2012 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I think what hapened in Libya is an impeachable offense.......And it would not shock me if Obama is forced out of the white house.

November 02 2012 at 1:22 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

If Obama gets in again there will be a lot more people unemployed who can't afford to eat out. A Romany win means more jobs, more prosperity, more pleasures like dining out. Let's face it, Obama was elected because he promised to take on and solve all the problems of this nation at the same time. Four years later he's batting a big goose egg. Unless you consider $16 trillion more in debt an accomplishment. Another four years and Obama could single handedly (along with Nancy Pelosi) sink this country into a recession if not a depression. Wake up America and smell the dung.

November 01 2012 at 9:26 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply

Hopefully, as you say, other polls calling for an Obama victory will be in for a November surprise.

November 01 2012 at 9:04 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply

sorry, don't know why that posted twice

November 01 2012 at 8:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

p.f. changs...blech. mediocre americanized "chinese" food...

many of the restaurants on the table are regional, the ones in red regions are going to be heavily patronized by republicans, the ones in blue regions are going to be heavily patronized by democrats and of course the saturation of mcdonald's and pizzaslut's distribution across all states is why they are solidly "bi-partisan". there is little, if any, information to be gleaned from this "study".

November 01 2012 at 8:29 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply