HUNTINGTON BEACH : Petal Pushers Post Presidential Poll

Call it "flower power." Or perhaps "petunia polling."

A flower shop near Springdale Street and Edinger Avenue has gotten into presidential-preference polling, and the results are being posted each week.

"It's unofficial, but people seem to like it, and it's a lot of fun," said Marianne Atkins, owner of Harbour Floral, 15752 Springdale St. "I decided to do this because it occurred to me that most people never have a chance to be in a poll. I've lived in California all my life, and no one has ever polled me."

Atkins has a three-foot-tall, red, white and blue "ballot box" inside her store. No purchase is necessary to drop a ballot into the box and express a presidential preference, she said. The voting sheets are labeled "Official Unofficial Ballot" and list the names of George Bush, Bill Clinton and "others," for write-ins.

The unofficial polling began about four weeks ago. Weekly results are tallied every Sunday and posted every Monday, Atkins said.

"The results I'm getting are very different from the polls I've seen in The Times or Time magazine," she said.

The flower shop poll began during the last week in August, with 198 people participating. The poll that week showed Bush 44%, Clinton 32%, Ross Perot (a write-in) 8%, other write-ins 2%, and undecided 14%.

The second week of polling was during the first week in September. Of the 265 people voting that week, 46% chose Bush, 39% selected Clinton, and 5% favored Perot. Other write-ins received 1%, and 10% were undecided.

Atkins said she has no idea where the "voters" live. "I imagine many live around this (Huntington Harbour) area, but we also have a big McDonnell Douglas plant nearby, and a lot of people commute from other areas to work there," she said.

Atkins said the weekly unofficial polls will continue through the last week of October.

Asked if there had been any unusual write-in votes for president, Atkins laughed and said, "Well, we've had several votes for Dan Quayle--none of which was spelled right. I don't know what the significance of that is."

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