Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) is jumping into the presidential race and into politics by being its own poll. But it’s not conducting phone surveys or asking Web site visitors to vote in an “unscientific” poll. it is basing its polling on the books customers order.
Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) has launched the “Electoral Heat Map” on its Web site, which tracks (by state) whether the majority of categorized “red” or “blue” books are ordered in each state over the previous 30 days. The map is updated daily and it is based on the sales of 100 best-selling “red” and “blue” books and categorized by Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) according to political orientation of the books. According to the map as of Friday afternoon, 57 percent of the books sold nationally are “red” books, with 43 percent listed a “blue.” And only five states have bought more “blue” than “red” in the past month. Amazon has said it plans to update the map every single day as sales numbers come in.
While it is entertaining to see the map, it is hardly scientific and might be entirely accurate based solely on how some of the books are categorized. Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN) seems to have categorized some books on the subject of the book and does not take into account whether the book is supportive or critical of the subject. For example, one of the so-called “blue” books that is counted for the map is a biography of Lyndon B. Johnson, a Democrat president from 1963-68; however, the author wrote critically of Johnson, which might make the book more of a “red” book. And on the other side, a “red” book by Christopher Hitchens and Yale professor Jacob Hacker seems inaccurate because they wrote a recent economic agenda for liberal groups. Another “blue” book is a David McCullough work about Democrat president Harry S Truman (1945-53), though that book reads as if it’s neutral and takes no partisan side.
So maybe book-buying won’t be the clue into who will win the presidential election or which party will take control of Congress in November, but at least it’s one more thing for pundits to mull over and dissect while they look for news waiting for the polls to close Nov. 6.