Strange But True Election Indicators

Obama Romney Masks
Spirit Halloween

America is chewing its collective fingernails on Election Day as voters hit the polls to decide what could be one of the closest presidential races in history. But fear not, there are a number of reliable indicators out there that just might provide some comfort while waiting for the numbers.

For example, Vigo County, Indiana has correctly picked the winner of every presidential election since 1956, usually within 3% of the popular vote. The county has only failed to vote correctly twice since Grover Cleveland won his massive comeback victory over incumbent Benjamin Harrison in 1892. Initial polls have been inconclusive, so Vigo is no help for now.

Like the presidential race, the Summer Olympics happen every four years, and thanks to some specific factors, the worldwide sporting event has correctly predicted the outcome of 12 of the past 13 elections. Except for the 1988 election, incumbent presidents, or the incumbent party, have always successfully defended their seat in the White House if a country that has previously hosted the games (or won the right to do so)  hosts the Summer Olympics that year. Prior to hosting the 2012 games, England held the Summer Olympics in 1908, so Barack Obama should still have his job on Wednesday.

A classic alternative election indicator, the Redskins rule has correctly predicted every presidential election since 1940. Sports statistician Steve Hirdt noticed in 2000 that the incumbent party always retains power when the Washington Redskins football team wins its last home game before the election. If the team loses its last home game, the opposition party will claim the White House. The only hiccup was in 2004 when the Green Bay Packers defeated the Redskins and George W. Bush defeated Democratic challenger John Kerry. It should be noted, however, that Kerry won the popular vote and Bush defeated him by electoral votes. The Redskins lost 21-13 to the Carolina Panthers at home on November 4 this year, so if the rule remains true, Romney should defeat Obama—unless he wins the popular vote but fails to earn enough electoral votes, leaving the incumbent in office.

Right here in the Hamptons, we have our own rock-solid election indicator. Every four years, the Monogram Shop in East Hampton sells cups with both candidates’ names on them, and the candidate who sells more cups always wins the election. The cup race has only been a tradition since Bush beat Kerry in 2004, but so far it’s holding up well. Romney cups outsold Obama cups by a significant margin this year (5,914 to 4,499), so it’s not looking good for our current president.

On a similar note, sales of Halloween masks have correctly predicted the winner of every presidential election in the United States since 1980. The candidate whose likeness sells more as a Halloween mask will win the election that year, according to a 2004 report by the CNN Money website. This fact held true that year and in 2008. This year, CNN Money reports Obama masks outselling Romney masks by a 60-40 margin.

The final tally? Strange but true indicators reveal that the 2012 election really is close. Obama takes the Halloween mask vote and the Olympic predictor, but Romney owns the Redskins rule and the Monogram Shop cup race. It appears all eyes will be on Indiana.

Share your bizarre Election Day indicators or superstitions here.

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