Polls, Superstitions Predict Election Outcome

While many nationwide polls report a statistical tie between President Barack Obama and Governor Mitt Romney, some Americans are examining other indicators to predict the winner of the 2012 presidential election. From merchandise sales to cookie recipe contests, here are some strange and unscientific, yet seemingly accurate predictors of presidential elections.

The Redskins Rule
Tradition dictates that if the Washington Redskins win their last home game before Election Day, the incumbent party would retain its seat in the White House. This superstition held true for nearly 70 years; in 2004, the Redskins lost, but George W. Bush defeated John Kerry for a second term as president. The Carolina Panthers defeated the Redskins 21-13, predicting a win for Romney.

LSU v. Alabama
The results of the LSU/Alabama game have correctly predicted election results since 1984. Legend says that if Alabama wins, the Democrats do; if LSU wins, the Republicans do. Alabama won 21-7, and thus indicating an Obama win.

MLB World Series
If a candidate won the state whose baseball team also won the World Series that year, then he would go on to win the presidential election. Exceptions to this 44 year tradition include 1992 (where the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series), 2000, and 2004. This year, the San Francisco Giants were victorious; California is very much a blue state, and therefore predicts the reelection of Obama.

The Lakers Law
If the Los Angeles Lakers make it to the NBA finals during an election year, then the Republican candidate will win the election. According to The Daily Beast, this lore was accurate eight times prior to the election of 2008. The Miami Heat and the Oklahoma City Thunder faced off in the 2012 NBA finals, indicating a win for Obama.

Halloween Masks
Spirit Halloween says that the sale of Halloween masks for each of the presidential candidates indicates who will win the election. This tradition has accurately predicted the election since 1996. This year, Obama masks have outsold Romney masks, thus indicating reelection for Obama.

7 Election
7-Eleven chains conduct a “completely unscientific poll” by letting its customers pick the winner of the presidential election through their choice of coffee cup. Obama coffee cups have out sold Romney cups this year, 60%/40%, predicting a win for Obama.

Family Circle Cookie Contest
Since 1992, Family Circle magazine has held a cookie recipe contest for the prospective First Ladies; each submits a cookie recipe for viewers to bake, taste, and choose. The winner of the contest has become First Lady all but one time — Cindy McCain won the contest in 2008. This year, Michelle Obama’s White and Dark Chocolate Chip cookies beat Ann Romney’s M&M’s cookies by 287 votes.

Scholastic Kids
Kids have been casting ballots for the presidential election since 1940, thanks to the Scholastic Student Vote. The poll has correctly predicted the outcome for almost every presidential election; in 1948, students favored Thomas Dewey instead of Harry Truman and Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy in 1960. This year, Obama won 51% of the vote; additionally, he won the kid vote in swing states Florida, Nevada, Colorado, and Ohio.

Gnocchi the Squirrel
Gnocchi, a squirrel hailing from South Carolina, was left with two bowls of nuts, one for each candidate, for 30 minutes. Whichever bowl he ate more nuts out of would indicate the winner of the election. While Gnocchi predicted an Obama win in 2008, he ate more nuts out of his opponent’s bowl, thus predicting a Romney victory.

Nevertheless, no superstition can replace the significance of national polls. Gallup, Pew, NBC/Wall Street Journal, CNN, ABC/Washington Post, Rasmussen Reports, and Public Policy Polling, among others, are faithfully followed by political pundits and junkies.

Those who want a more “strictly numbers” analysis flock to Nate Silver’s blog FiveThirtyEight, which offers state-by-state probabilities, electoral vote distributions, and candidate chances based on national polls. Silver, whose focus before analyzing public opinion polls for elections was baseball sabermetrics, operates his blog by “weighting each poll based on the pollster’s historical track record, sample size, and recentness of the poll.”

Regardless of what unconventional predictions dictate, they are not self-fulfilling prophecies. Republicans, Democrats, and third party supports alike should all go out and vote this Election Day, for participation matters rather than than oddball superstitions.

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