Can Busken’s Cookie Poll Predict the Next President?

It’s been right in the last nine elections, but there’s a pandemic wrinkle that might skew this year’s results.

Photograph courtesy of Busken Bakery

In the last nine elections, this poll has never been wrong: It has predicted the president of the United States with 100% accuracy. This year, Page Busken has to wonder if it might be the first wrong prediction.

“We have eight stores. Only three are open right now” because of the pandemic, says Busken, CEO of Busken Bakery, and that can make an impact.

In the 1980s, when the Bengals were Super Bowl contenders, Busken Bakery started a Super Bowl cookie poll, inviting customers to make a guess at the Super Bowl winner by purchasing a cookie of their favorite team. If that succeeded, Busken thought, why not something similar for the presidential election?

The bakery launched its first presidential cookie poll in 1984, and the 2020 election marks its 10th. Unlike, oh, every other polling company out there, it’s never been wrong.

Photograph courtesy of Busken Bakery

Last year, for example, Busken Bakery sold somewhere between 40,000 and 50,000 presidential poll cookies, says Brian Busken, the bakery’s vice president. President Donald Trump won that poll by just 1,500 cookies—3 percent of the total vote.

“We were pretty convinced 2016 was going to be the first year we were wrong because all the polls and all the news indicated that Trump was going to lose the election pretty swiftly,” Brian Busken says. “He’s leading now overall with the citywide count [of cookies sold]. So we’ll see where it goes. No crumb will be left uncounted.”

In addition to Busken Bakery’s open locations—in Hyde Park, Springdale, and Highland Heights—voters can also purchase cookies at area UDF stores.

The portraits

Busken Bakery has used the same local artist to create their presidential cookie portraits for years, Brian Busken says. The artist freehands the portraits and mails them to the bakery. He knows to keep the portraits simple because, once the bakery receives the portraits, it turns the drawings into foam stamps, which are cut by hand.

“It’s extremely old-school, the whole process,” Brian Busken says. “We actually stamp every cookie by hand. Once the outline [from the stamp] is dry, we airbrush in hair color and skin tone, also by hand. We’ve gotten pretty good at cranking these things out efficiently over the years.”

This year’s tally

Each day, Busken Bakery updates its Facebook page with the current poll tally. As of Thursday, for example, the posted tallies were:

  • Trump with 16,849 votes
  • Former Vice President Joe Biden with 12,553 votes
  • The smiley face, which represents “the Cookie Party,” with 7,933 votes

Brian Busken wonders if the bakery’s poll is so accurate because Ohio is such a bellwether state, with a national reputation for choosing the president. “I think it’s the only poll in the country that I’m aware of that’s been right every time,” he says.

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