Romney Pulling Away: The Buyers of Political Picnic Cups in East Hampton Tell Their Story

President Obama got a bump up in the national polls after the Democratic Convention. In the Rasmussen Poll, Obama led 50% to 45%,  where two weeks earlier he had been behind Romney 44% to 47%, a shift of 5%. According to the Gallup Poll, it was Obama 49% and Romney 44%, an increase of 3% from the prior poll.

This, however, is in sharp contrast to the Monogram Shop Cup poll in East Hampton. Many people rely on this poll. Here, at 11 Newtown Lane, customers during the last three Presidential election campaigns have, for beach picnics and other parties, bought 16-ounce frosted plastic cups with the names of the candidates on them, in blue for the Democrats, in red for the Republicans. You walk in the store and you make your choice. It’s $3 a cup. You can buy for one candidate or you can buy for the other. The running totals are posted daily in the window.

The Monogram Cup Poll has never been wrong. Founded in 2004, BUSH/CHENEY beat KERRY/EDWARDS in cups sold, just as the Republicans did in real life. And in 2008, OBAMA/BIDEN beat MCCAIN/PALIN in cups sold, just as the Democrats did in real life.

Yet here, this summer and fall, they have been telling an odd story. ROMNEY/RYAN 2012 jumped out into the lead from the get-go, right after the Republican convention, which you might have attributed to the fact that it seemed possible Obama might replace Biden on the ticket and so there was some hesitancy about buying what would turn out to be unhelpful OBAMA/BIDEN 2012 cups. But then, after the Democratic Convention reconfirmed Biden on the ticket, there was, at the store, no surge at all for the Democrats.

Indeed, the cup totals show Romney and Ryan pulling away. On August 27, the totals were 2,680 for Romney, 2,437 for Obama, a lead of 243 cups for Romney/Ryan. On September 3, the lead was 258 cups and on Saturday September 8, after the Democratic Convention, Romney’s lead had increased to 499 cups. The actual count on September 9 was Romney 3,651 and Obama 3,152. Obama’s “bounce,” if you can call it that, was, if you do the math, 6% from what it had been two weeks earlier. The bounce was negative.

Now the fact is that although the insiders rely on Rasmussen and Gallup, the real insiders, those in the know down at the candidates’ headquarters, rely on the “always right” East Hampton Monogram Cup Poll, or, as they call it out in campaignland, the EHMCP. Now both camps are trying to deal with what seems to be a vote out of control and running away for Romney here in a state—New York—that until now has been planted firmly in the Democratic column for Obama this November. New York’s delegates are supposed to be a sure thing for him. There’s no question about it. But then—look at this.

What does it all mean? Well, according to Valerie Smith, the owner of the Monogram Shop, there does not appear to be any hanky- panky going on where Romney aides come in and buy up all the Romney cups every morning, and then more aides—you can recognize them by the wire in the back of their ears—coming in the afternoon to buy more cups. But there are some strange things that are hard to explain.

“A woman comes into the store and she says she wants to buy the ROMNEY/RYAN 2012 cups for her husband,” she says. “Or a woman will come in with her daughter and say, ‘Let’s buy daddy some ROMNEY/RYAN 2012 cups.’”

There are, apparently, men in East Hampton or the surrounding area—it is believed that buyers of the cups come from all over, including western Long Island, Manhattan, France, England, Germany, Japan and China as well as from all 50 states for that matter—who would rather not be seen carrying ROMNEY/RYAN 2012 cups out to their Mercedes – Benzes.

Are these closet Republicans? Or, rather, beach party Republicans?

Another thing to consider is that East Hampton and, in fact, all the Hamptons, are a bastion of wealthy people who have no problem hiding money in Swiss bank accounts. They are the 2%. And they like the cut, so to speak, of Romney’s jib, feeling in fellowship with his former Swiss bank accounts at one time rubbing up against theirs, but are in public continuing to assert that they intend to vote for Barack Obama this year as they surely said they did four years ago when money was abundant and there was lots of it to trickle down to the less fortunate. Too bad, you less fortunate!

This is just a theory, of course. Maybe the Obama followers are just holding back, waiting to pounce. Smith remembers in 2004 when, for much of the early months of that campaign, KERRY/EDWARDS was leading in the cup count, only to find a big surge toward the end at which time BUSH/CHENEY snatched the prize when the final tally was in.

Is there something personal you can do about all this? Well, you can go out and buy cups at the Monogram Shop for the candidates of your choice. Or better yet, buy some of both. That way you can have a Democratic set on one side of the table and a Republican set on the other side, in appreciation of the U. S. Congress, where the Democrats control the Senate and the Republicans control the House.

That would be a vote for continuing to get nothing done.

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