ANNAPOLIS – The voters have spoken: cream, sugar, black, but, PLEASE, not Bush or Gore.
Throughout September, the nationwide convenience store chain 7- Eleven allowed patrons to get their daily dose of java in 20-ounce cups promoting presidential candidates George W. Bush, the Republican nominee; Al Gore, the Democratic nominee; or third party/no opinion.
Six million coffee drinkers cast their vote in the “7-Election” last month, and this huge convenience store constituency overwhelmingly picked anybody but the two major-party candidates.
Maryland caffeine junkies gave Bush and Gore each 23 percent, but the other 54 percent avoided both.
Nationwide, the completely unscientific poll found similar numbers. Average joe drinkers picked Bush 21 percent of the time and Gore 20 percent. The rest chose the alternative/apathetic option.
Did the nearly 4 million third-party/no-opinion drinkers simply not care, or did they have one of the many third-party candidates in mind when they bellied up to the coffee machines?
We’ll never know. But the answer does not matter, said Stacy Malkan, a spokeswoman for Green Party candidate Ralph Nader.
“Either way, it’s a great example of how turned off Americans are to politics as usual,” she said.
The third party/no opinion cup, which was actually just the chain’s regular 20-ounce coffee container, stood for apathy as well as a range of third-party candidates, including Nader, the Reform Party’s Pat Buchanan, and Libertarian Harry Browne.
On the promotion’s first day, the chain only put out Bush and Gore cups, the manager of a Maryland 7-Eleven told Capital News Service Thursday.
“People started complaining because they didn’t want to take either of those cups to work,” the manager said. The third party/no opinion cups were quickly provided.
7-Eleven only printed custom cups for the two major-party candidates because of space limitations near the coffee machines, said corporate spokeswoman Dana Manley.
Manley didn’t know if the promotion increased coffee sales for a chain that averages 1 million cups per day.
“But we helped register about 20,000 voters who weren’t previously registered,” she said.