Phyllis Aguilar,60,a business analyst from Houston,hesitantly ventured up to a 1969 Ford Good Humor ice cream truck parked on Constitution Avenue near the White House as she was walking past the Washington Monument.
“And who are you voting for?” asked Marcus Strong,a Berliner Specialty Distributors employee garbed in an old-fashioned ice-cream-man suit – white pants,white shirt and black bow tie.
To his left were men dressed as Secret Service agents watching over a Barack Obama lookalike through their all-black sunglasses and a fidgety Mitt Romney lookalike playing with an Etch A Sketch.
“Obama,of course,” Aguilar told Strong,who is the company’s mobile vending director.
The makeshift Ice Cream Social Presidential Poll,sponsored and set up by BerlinerPresident Guy Berliner and his staff,had the Obama and Romney lookalikes mingling with passersby for about five hours.
Romney voters chose from a variety of flavors on the right of the vintage Good Humor truck,and those voting for Obama got their ice cream from the left.
The fake Secret Service agents tallied the vote and posted a running total. At the close of the experiment,Obama had captured 486 votes to win the poll,and Romney had 393½. One supporter wasn’t entirely committed to the Republican presidential hopeful,hence the half-vote.
Voting regulations didn’t apply,so children and citizens of several nations,including Ecuador,Germany,the Netherland and Chile,cast votes.
“Everyone knows that when you eat ice cream it has been scientifically proven to make you happy,” Berliner said. “I think everybody knows when you’re happy you think clearer,you think straighter,and so when you take the poll it’s much better than these so-called professionals that take polls.”
He said the poll will predict the outcome of the November election and should be the future of political polling.
“If we could find out today with certainty who the next president was going to be,then my idea is the loser would withdraw from the race and the next president would start working on the real issues of the time: the economy,jobs,national security,education,” Berliner said.
For Carrie Lauck,50,a high school administrative assistant from Louisville,Ky.,and her three teenaged children,the makeshift poll provided a photo opportunity.
“Some of the people we sent pictures to thought it was really Obama,so that was kind of cool,” Lauck said.
The majority of passersby wanted to hang out with the fake president,leaving Romney’s lookalike straggling along in search of someone to talk to.
“I actually want to meet Obama,” one bystander told Todd Clark,51,who played Romney.
Larry Graves,57,who imitates President Barack Obama in an almost uncanny fashion,said he could tell who a bystander would vote for before they told him.
“Now. I’ve been wrong a few times,” Graves said,“but I can tell by their dress,their humor,their look.”
Some participants debated politics with the candidate lookalikes,but most snapped photos and watched the commotion from a nearby park bench while they ate their ice cream.
“This gives people a chance to both play around with proximity to the process,and everyone loves ice cream,” Clark said.
Reach reporter Chelsea Boozer at [email protected] or 202-326-9866. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.