04 November, 2016
With the American elections just a few days away, researchers are busy preparing last-minute opinion surveys.
The researchers hope to identify the next president of the United States by questioning likely voters.
But one businessman is using a completely different method to predict who will win the election. He is choosing the winner based on sales of presidential campaign-related products in his store.
Jim Warlick owns and operates White House Gifts in Washington, D.C. His business is a short walk from the real White House.
Warlick has been selling presidential campaign buttons for the past 35 years. In August, 62 percent of the buttons he sold were for Hillary Clinton, the candidate of the Democratic Party. Buttons for Donald Trump, the Republican Party candidate, totaled 38 percent. His unofficial survey was taken a short time after the parties held meetings to officially nominate the candidates.
Jim Warlick's store sells a lot more than buttons. People can also buy T-shirts, bobbleheads, coffee mugs and magnets showing their favorite candidate.
As the long campaign season nears an end, some Americans might be growing tired of politics. But a lot of people are still buying items at the store.
On a recent day, one of them was Mariam Khan, a U.S. citizen who was born in Zimbabwe.
"It's going on and on and on, all the name calling."
However, Khan's feelings did not stop her from buying many election-related items from White House Gifts.
Another woman, Susan Levin, said no matter who wins, she thinks this presidential election has already been historic.
"I'm getting things that are not going to be here after the election," she said.
Warlick said the numbers in his button count recently changed after the third and final presidential debate.
"It was 57 Hillary and 43 Trump. So it's narrowed. Yes, it has."
But he says the best-selling products are actually not related to either candidate. Instead, the most popular things have to do with President Barack Obama and his wife Michelle.
"Actually, Michelle is more popular than the president, so we started doing a Michelle line. And so the two legacies of the president and the first lady are selling more than both Clinton and Trump."
Warlick has correctly predicted the result of almost every presidential race since 1980. The only time he was wrong was in 2000, when Al Gore lost to George W. Bush.
So the big question is - which candidate is he choosing this year?
"I watch the polls quite a bit daily and my merchandise daily. So I would say it's going to be Clinton."
So based on souvenir sales and his own opinion, Warlick placed an order last week for the 2017 presidential inauguration. He spent a lot of money buying Hillary Clinton-related items.
He admits that his decision could be a mistake if Donald Trump wins on Election Day. But he is not too worried, since he has a good record making choices based on what people buy.
He is excited about the swearing-in of the next president, set to take place January 20, 2017. And after that, he says the 2020 election can't come soon enough.
"Oh yes, yes! Christmas comes every four years for us," he said.
I'm Bryan Lynn.
Mil Arcega reported this story for VOANews. Bryan Lynn adapted it for Learning English. George Grow was the editor.
We want to hear from you. What are your favorite election-related items? Write to us in the Comments section, and visit testbig.com.
Words in This Story
button – n. small, round piece of plastic or metal with a stamped design or print that is worn on clothing
bobblehead – n. a doll having a head that repeatedly moves when touched or moved
mug – n. large cup usually used for hot drinks
legacy – n. something passed down from an earlier time
souvenir – n. something people buy to remember a person or event
instinct – n. something a person knows without learning or thinking about
inauguration – n. ceremony where a leader is officially sworn into office
survey – n. a study of public opinion
item – n. an object or thing