6 Bizarre Factors That Predict Every Presidential Election

Despite what the pundits, talking heads and NPR tell you, the presidential election is still a crapshoot. You think you know what's going to happen, then BAM! The president of the United States takes a Xanax/Thanksgiving turkey cocktail before a debate. Wouldn't it be great if you could shut out that political noise and predict the outcome of every presidential election based on completely ridiculous and arbitrary factors?

Guess what? You totally can. Just go by ...

#6. The Redskins Rule


The Washington Redskins enjoy one of the most remarkable reputations in political history due to a little correlation called the "Redskins rule." It's as simple as it is spooky: If the Redskins win their last home game before election day, then the party in power gets to hold on to the White House. If the Redskins lose, no matter how close the game, the opposition party takes over.

"Hmmm, I should go for a tie just to see what happens."

You could write it off as blind chance if, say, it worked for three or four elections ... but the rule has incredibly held true for every damn election since 1940, except one (and we'll get to it in a minute). So this is slowly entering gypsy curse territory.

Because why the hell would this possibly work? Maybe you could say that the incumbent is re-elected when things are going well for the country, and when things are going well, the crowd will be more jazzed to root for football, and the positive crowd makes the team play better. But why would it only apply to that one game? Keep in mind that it has nothing to do with how good the team is overall -- the 1976 Redskins only lost two games at home all year, but by God, one of those two losses was right before election day, and therefore the Republican incumbent lost and Democrats took back the presidency. What the hell?

Walter Iooss / Sports Illustrated
"Screw your election! We just lost to the Cowboys!"

As for the one exception, it was in 2004, when the Green Bay Packers beat the Redskins but George W. Bush held on to the presidency. The fact that this was the one exception actually makes it weirder, because as some of you vividly remember, Bush was president but had actually lost the popular vote in 2000 (winning only due to the Supreme Court craziness over Florida's recount). As the guy credited with discovering the theory, Steve Hirdt, points out, if you make the rule refer not to the party in power, but to the party that won the popular vote in the previous election, it suddenly has a perfect 18-for-18 record predating World War II.

#5. Which Side Sells More Halloween Masks


The nice thing about the election being so close to Halloween is all the Electionweenie parties the bars throw. And what better costume for a Hallowection bash than the rubbery dripping face of your favorite presidential candidate? Or just a regular mask of LBJ. Either way -- spooooky!

So you'd think that the sales of presidential Halloween masks would only reflect how uncreative and slipshod we are when it comes to costumes, not much more or less. But it's actually a pretty accurate indicator of who will win the election. According to CNN Money in 2004, Halloween mask sales have accurately predicted the winner of every U.S. presidential election since 1980. This method was upheld in 2004 and again in 2008.

The great thing about John Kerry masks is that they work just as well for Andrew Jackson.

This is a little bit surprising, because it seems like for every nerd who dresses up as his favorite candidate, there would be 10 college kids ironically dressing up as somebody they hate to make some kind of "wacky" commentary (i.e., college Republicans in the '90s wearing Bill Clinton costumes with a blow-up Monica Lewinsky doll attached). After all, Halloween is all about being scary, right? You'd think all of the Obama supporters would be out buying Mitt Romney costumes and trying to craft a "binder full of women" to carry around.

The binder marked "?" is illegal in 38 states.

Also, you'd think that either way the numbers would be badly skewed, since people who dress up for Halloween are only one segment of the population. You're leaving out the elderly vote, plus all of the religious types who don't believe in the holiday.

But, no -- for a generation, we've been buying the mask of the guy we intend to vote for. Which is pretty weird, if you ask us, especially since we're pretty sure a lot of these sales are parents buying masks in order to dress up their toddlers as a form of political debate ("Thanks for the candy, can I take a moment to talk to you about why little Mitt here will be good for small businesses?"). And in case you're wondering, according to the good folks at BuyCostumes.com, we're looking at four more years of an Obama nation. Either that or we've got a whole other racial effigy problem on our hands.

Speaking of kids ...

#4. The Kid Vote


Remember when you were a kid in elementary school and you got to participate in a school-wide mock vote? To humor your childish little baby brains, the grown-ups set up voting booths and counted the ballots and everything, knowing perfectly well that your vote had as much say as a 19th century woman's. Half of the kids probably picked the candidate who most looked like a cartoon, or tried to eat the ballot.

Yet, somehow, the Scholastic News election poll has correctly called 15 of the past 17 presidential elections, including every single presidential election since 1964. Their only misses were in 1960, when they picked Richard M. Nixon over John F. Kennedy (in reality Kennedy won the popular vote by a microscopic margin of 49.7 percent to 49.5 percent), and in 1948, when they chose Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman. And hey, who didn't?

"To be fair, Governor Dewey did win the majority of deez."
"Deez, Mr. President?"
"Deez nuts!"

We suppose you could say that it's all because elementary school kids don't have the balls to vote for anyone other than their parents' favorite candidate ... but would they really mirror the results so perfectly? There are no rebellious kids who go against the grain? There aren't millions of dumb kids who just pick the candidate who most reminds them of their grandpa?

The best part is that Scholastic publishes their results weeks ahead of the actual election. All this jibber-jabbering about polls and hiring fortune tellers to read tea leaves to tell us who will win is pointless. The kids have already spoken. It's going to be Obama. Put a fork in it, we're done here.

The other 4 percent went with Big Bird.

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