OPEN TABLE NUMBERS SEEM PREDICTIVE OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – SEE FOR YOURSELVES !!

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OPEN TABLE NUMBERS SEEM PREDICTIVE OF PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION – SEE FOR YOURSELVES !!

We have been publishing OpenTable reservation numbers over the last few months, which have been showing a steady improvement, notwithstanding a lull in July. We pulled up the numbers, through yesterday, prepared to update our commentary. Sure enough, the numbers continued to improve over the last two weeks, since we last published on August 10th. Take a look at the table just below, but check out the shocker, last night’s number, August 24th  !! -64%, 12 points worse than last week, and “counter-trend”

What was going on last night ? There were no nationwide snowstorms or tornadoes. There was, however, the first night of the Republican National Convention !  Could this be ? This website has thousands of readers and the last thing we want to do is jump to conclusions, so we dug up the viewership numbers that have so far been released.

On the three major broadcast networks: The DNC drew 5.7M viewers on their first night. The RNC drew 14% fewer, at 4.9M. Compared to four years ago, both were down sharply. The DNC viewership was down as much as 42% on CBS, NBC and ABC. Including Fox and CNN the viewership was down 28% from opening night in 2016. Four years ago the RNC, on the networks, delivered “more than twice” that  of last time, so we assume something over 50%, more than the DNC.

It is not surprising that viewership is a lot less than four years ago, virtual and all. However, here’s the correlation with OpenTable’s materially lower reservations. ON C-SPAN, viewing virtual full coverage, 440,000 people tuned in for the RNC, vs. just 76,000 on the first night of the DNC.  

There are no doubt other numbers we could dig up, but our small staff,  :), doesn’t allow for too much overhead, so further numbers will have to wait.  It seems pretty clear, though, that politically interested viewers, if they are liberal, watched the DNC on the major networks last week, but have much less interest in the RNC. The conservative viewers had no interest in watching the NBC, CBS or ABC version of the DNC last week, or especially the RNC this week on the networks (so the numbers are fairly close).

The even bigger takeaway, however, is that C-SPAN viewership went through the roof for the RNC, six times the number for the DNC, reflecting conservative approval of C-SPAN (along with FOX) and no doubt also reflecting approval from independent voters. 

Just for the heck of it, we thought we would look at the OpenTable numbers, state by state, and see if last night’s dinner reservations seemed consistent with political inclinations. Here’s what we found, and we indicated which way each state went in 2016:

Monday to Monday, the 24th compared with Monday, the 17th: (“Down WTW” means conservative, prefers Domino’s and Wingstop this week to missing the RNC excitement.)

Alabama reservations were down 56% vs. 44%, Trump big in 2016

California was down 84% vs. 66%, Trump huge in 2016, but restaurants shut down again

Connecticut was down only 10% vs 17%: Clinton by 224k votes,  no interest in the RNC

Florida down 57% vs. 54%, Trump by only 113k votes in 2016, close again?

Georgia was down 64% vs. 56%, consistent with Trump by 211k votes in 2016

Illinois  down 65% vs 61%, Clinton by 944k votes, streets unsafe, possibly closer?

Indiana down 45% vs. 41%, Trump (and Pence) by 524k votes in 2016

Kansas down 54% vs. 48% Trump by 244k votes in 2016

Louisiana     down 81% vs 50% Trump by 398k  votes in 2016

Minnesota  down 50% vs 40%, Clinton by 44k votes, Trump in 2020?

Missouri down 53% vs 47%, Trump by 523k votes in 2016

Nebrasa down 59% vs 37%, Trump by 211k votes in 2016

Nevada down 78% vs 48%, Clinton by slim 27k votes in 2016, something going on here?

New Jersey down only 29% vs 35%, no interest in the RNC, Clinton by 546k Votes

New Mexico down 83% vs 68%, Clinton by 66k votes, leaning Trump now??

New York (liberal for sure) flat at down 71%, no way Clinton loses NY

North Carolina 50% vs 52%, Trump by fairly slim 173k votes in 2016, close call now?

Ohio flat at 47%, Trump by 446k votes in 2016, closer today?

Oklahoma down 54% vs 40%, Trump by 528k in 2016

Oregon down 78% vs 56%, Clinton by comfortable 220k votes in 2016, riots today ??

Pennsylvania  down 55% vs 56%, Trump by very close 44k votes, still close

South Carolina down 46% vs 53%, Trump by 300k votes in 2016

Tennessee down 57% vs 50%, Trump by big 652k vote

Texas down 64% vs 51%, Trump by comfortable 807k votes

Utah down 63% vs 39%, Trump by comfortable 204k votes

Virginia down 49% vs 56%, Clinton by 212k votes, could be closer

Washington State down 86% vs 65%, Clinton by big 520k votes, riots? could be closer

Wisconsin down 51% vs. 48%, Trump by close 22k votes, looks close again

CONCLUSION:

We view these numbers as too consistent to ignore, but interpret them as you will, and we would be happy to discuss any or all of this with you, individually. Our conclusion is that the race is by no means a runaway for Biden. There are just not enough states, based on the above indications, that look close to flipping from Trump in 2016 to Biden in 2020. Our guess is that, if the election were held today, it would be a close call. It’s a short time, and a long time, until November 3rd.

Roger Lipton