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11 Strangest Methods to Predict Presidential Elections
written by Sam Greenspan

In case you haven't heard, there's an election tomorrow.

Pretty much every reliable poll has Obama ahead. But this isn't a website where I talk about things like real polls. Not my style.

Instead, today, we're talking 11 other, far weirder, far funnier methods that people have used to predict U.S. presidential elections. And while all of them fall under the realm of spurious correlations... aren't they more fun to read about than, like, how Zogby polls shouldn't be taken too seriously since they under-sample gay Eskimos ages 35 to 49?

  1. Hey McCain: Your fate rests in the hands of Jim Zorn and Jason Campbell. Almost makes you crave Spurrier or Frerotte, huh?
    Washington Redskins. Starting in 1936, if the Washington Redskins won their final home game before a presidential election, the incumbent party won that election. If they lost their final home game before the election, the incumbent party lost.

    In 1936, the Redskins were the Boston Redskins, and on November 1st, they beat the Chicago Cardinals, 13-10. The incumbent Democrat, FDR, won re-election.

    These Redskins predictions held true for 15 straight elections... until the 2004 election, when the Redskins lost their last home game and George W. Bush won anyway.

    But, with a 94 percent accuracy rating, you've got to like the predictive ability.

    So how about this year? It's coming down to the wire. Tonight's Monday Night Football game is in Washington. If the Redskins beat the Steelers, it's good news for McCain... if the Steelers win, it's good news for Obama.

    Update: The Steelers beat the hell out of the Redskins.

    Prediction: Obama.

  2. 7-Eleven Cups. Starting in the first week of October, 7-Eleven lets customers pick between two different coffee cups: One featuring the Democrat, one featuring the Republican. This is the third election that's featured the cups, and in both 2000 and 2004, 7-Eleven cup sales prophetically had Bush winning by incredibly small margins.

    According to the 7-Election.com website, this year, Obama cups are outselling McCain cups, 60 percent to 40 percent.

    Prediction: Obama.

  3. Height. I've covered presidential heights on this site before (it's a really interesting list, by the way, I highly recommend it).

    Since 1900, taller candidates have lost to a shorter opponent only eight times. (And once again, W. is the outlier, beating back-to-back taller candidates.)

    This year, Obama is 6-foot-1. McCain is 5-foot-6.

    Prediction: Obama.


  4. Makes you kinda hope you're never immortalized in mask form. Yikes.
    Halloween Masks. Halloween and the presidential election are usually just a few days apart... and since topical costumes are always such a go-to, the two events end up tied together, for better or worse.

    Since 1980, the presidential candidate whose mask has sold better has won every single election.

    Leading up to this Halloween, Obama far outsold McCain at all of the major nationwide and online costume retailers. At Amazon, Buycostumes and Spirit, Obama outsold McCain about 5-to-3.

    But Jason hockey masks from "Friday the 13th" outsold both of them. Jason Voorhees in 2012? (And perhaps his first lady can be his lovely wife, Lark.)

    Prediction: Obama.

  5. Last Name Length. Starting in 1900, the candidate with more letters in his last name has won 15 times and lost seven times. (Three times the candidates had the same number of letters.)

    Some would say this got skewed by Eisenhower beating Stevenson twice... I mean, Stevenson could've taken pretty much anyone else.

    Others would say it's a predictor that's accurate more than two-thirds of the time. McCain's got six letters, Obama's got five. Maybe he should've stuck with Soetoro.

    Prediction: McCain.

  6. First Lady Cookie Recipes. Every election year, "Family Circle" publishes a cookie recipe from each of the potential first ladies, and lets their readers vote on whose recipe is better. And each year since they started (which hasn't been that long, just since '92), the winners have been Hillary Clinton over Barbara Bush and Elizabeth Dole, and Laura Bush over Tipper Gore and Teresa Heinz Kerry.

    Before we get to this year's recipes, let's all take a quick moment to thank the lord that Hillary didn't get the nomination, thus leading to Bill Clinton having to be subjected to this degrading contest. Especially if his recipe had been for Chocolate Lady Fingers.

    This year, Michelle Obama turned in a recipe for shortbread cookies and Cindy McCain turned in one for oatmeal-butterscotch.

    The results of the poll were released a few weeks ago, and McCain's cookies won, getting 54 percent of the vote.

    Prediction: McCain.


  7. Do we want these ladies deciding an election?
    Female Eyebrow Thickness. According to "Women's Wear Daily" (as reported in 2004 by ABC News), "In leaner years [which generally lead to Republican wins], you'll see thinner eyebrows and redder lipstick, where in more flush economic times you see kind of Brooke Shields uberbrows and more softer [sic] lip colorings."

    Of course, today, lean economic times are pushing us toward Democrats. So even if most women now are adamantly avoiding the Sandy Cohen look, it's hard to tell what that means for the election.

    Prediction: None.

  8. Whatever Punk Kids Think. As longtime readers will know, I have much contempt for today's children. Like the budding curmudgeon I am, I find them all to be narcissistic sociopaths.

    So I personally don't value their opinion. But this poll goes back for several generations, when there were kids whose opinions actually did matter (like, say, my generation).

    Since 1940, "Scholatic News" and "Junior Scholastic" have polled U.S. school children, grades one through 12. And the kids have accurately predicted the president all but two times (1948 Dewey over Truman and 1960 Nixon over Kennedy).

    This year, Obama beat McCain, 57 percent to 39 percent. And as further proof to the point I made three paragraphs ago, one of the most popular write-in candidates was kids who "even voted for themselves."

    Hey, "American Idol"/YouTube generation: Do something... anything... to earn respect/success/fame, and then you can receive it. Until then, recognize that there's a big wide world outside of the reflection in the mirror.

    Prediction: Obama.

  9. Hair. In the TV era of presidential elections, the candidate with better hair has almost always won. (Bush over Kerry being a big exception; Kennedy over Nixon being the trademark example.)

    This year is particularly tough, because neither candidate is doing anything groundbreaking hair-wise. Obama's is tightly cropped, McCain is as bald as a 72-year-old man should be.

    You can tell no one's particularly fired up about the hair battle... in 2004, the Wahl Clipper people ran a nationwide poll about which candidate had better hair. (Kerry won). This year, no such poll.

    But since Obama is doing the Tiger Woods/Dwayne Wade thing and McCain is doing the Larry David thing... even without any formal poll, I think this one's pretty clear.

    Prediction: Obama.

  10. Los Angeles Lakers. There have been nine times in history that the Lakers have played in the NBA Finals in an election year. They've won titles five times and lost four, including this past June.

    But... all eight of the previous times, regardless of whether they've won or lost, if the Lakers played in the Finals, later that year, the Republican candidate won for president.

    The Laker effect benefited Eisenhower once, Nixon twice, Reagan twice, George H.W. Bush once, and George W. Bush twice.

    So I guess it wouldn't have been weird to see McCain wearing a Sasha Vujacic jersey this past spring. I mean... not any weirder than anyone wearing a Sasha Vujacic jersey.

    Prediction: McCain.

  11. Sylvia Browne. Montel's go-to psychic always makes a prediction. And she's wrong almost every year. According to the website Stop Sylvia Browne, this was her initial psychic take on the 2008 election, almost five years ago.
    Montel: How about Hillary Rodham Clinton?

    Browne: She'll never run... I don't ever want to live in this country if there's a woman president.... can you imagine a woman, PMS? Boom on the thing.
    In 2007, she still kept her anti-Hillary thing going... and predicted that Obama would win the election.

    Prediction: McCain. Or Lyndon LaRouche.

That takes the tally to six spurious correlation predictions for Obama, four for McCain and one too close to call.

As for who I'm voting for? I'm still young, poor and idealistic enough to go Obama. Oh... and I really don't want a Republican president in there for the next four to eight years when Supreme Court justices are going to be retiring at a Sugar Ray-like pace. Vote or die!

This list was originally published on Sunday, November 2, 2008 at 12:01:00 AM under the category News & Politics.
It currently has View Comments.

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