The U.S. presidential elections will take place on November 8, but American immigrants and tourists in the bars and diners of Paris have already made their decision.
“The Hillary Burger is beating the Trump Wrap”, says Craig Carlson, the owner of the Breakfast in America diners in Paris. Over the last two weeks, customers in the restaurant in the fifth arrondissement have been able to “vote” by ordering either a “Hot & Nasty” — a double cheeseburger served with jalapeños and hot sauce, in homage to the bottle of Tabasco the Democrat candidate always keeps in her handbag — or a “Totally Rigged” — a wrap “approved by Putin” with ground beef, salsa and sour cream, served with a “wall” of fries. The Democrat burger has pulled far ahead, with 35 votes to 4.
Those looking for a slightly more accurate voting forecast should cross the River Seine to Rue Daunou, in the second arrondissement. Harry’s New York Bar — a Manhattan bar that was dismantled, shipped and rebuilt identically in the Paris Opera neighborhood — has organized a straw vote every electoral year since 1924. This tradition dates back to the time when American immigrants couldn’t vote by proxy or online. Upon presentation of proof of ID, U.S. citizens can slip their ballot paper into a padlocked box, before ordering a “Trumpet” or a “Hillaryous”, two cocktails created for the occasion.
Some 554 American immigrants and tourists have taken part in the straw vote since October 8. The ongoing results are updated every Friday night, and displayed on the mirror behind the mahogany bar. So far, Hillary has 72.9% of the votes, while Trump is lagging behind with 27.1%. In 2012, Barack Obama garnered 59.1% of the straw votes before winning the election against Mitt Romney with 51.1% of the votes. With the exception of two elections — Jimmy Carter in 1976 and George W. Bush in 2004 — the Parisian straw vote has correctly predicted the presidential victor every time since it began.
“Democrat and Republican lobby groups always call us in the run-up to find out which way our vote is leaning”, says Franz-Arthur MacElhone, owner of the bar. This year, for the very first time, Harry’s has hired a PR firm to deal with the calls from curious media outlets and groups eager to get an early insight. “People call us every day”, says Elissa Balti, one of the two founders of the French Cancans PR firm. “And some even call back several times!”