Every four years, I make predictions based on 7-Eleven cups, the Redskins and Lakers, cookies, Halloween masks and more.
In both 2008 and 2012, I predicted the result of the presidential elections using 11 historically accurate (but thoroughly spurious) predictive methods. And it’s that time again.
Will we go three-for-three and get it right this year between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? Let’s get to the crap!
1 | Washington Redskins
From 1940 through 2000, if the Washington Redskins won their final home game before a presidential election, the incumbent president’s party would retain the White House. If they lost, the opposing party would claim it. The rule failed in 2012, when the Redskins lost at home to the Carolina Panthers but Obama was reelected. Will it redeem itself this year? The Redskins won’t play at home again before the election, and in their last home game, they beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-20.
2 | 7-Eleven cups
In the month or two leading up to a presidential election, 7-Eleven rolls out special coffee cups — one with each candidate’s name. They started in 2000 and have accurately predicted all four elections by which cup sells more.
But there was a different sign-of-the-times twist this year. First of all, they got rid of the names and just went with the parties. And second, in addition to a blue Democrat cup and a red Republican cup, they also offered a purple cup labeled “Speak Up,” encouraging people to pencil in their own candidate or none at all. And as of press time, the agnostic cup is leading sales (39% vs. 31% for Democrat and 29% for Republican). Who says third parties never win?
Prediction: Third party candidate.
3 | Height
Since 1900, taller candidates have lost to shorter candidates only nine times. (They’ve won 19 times. And there was one push, when Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush were the same height.) This year the candidates have the third largest height difference in history. (Also the largest gender difference in history, at “different.”) Clinton is 5-foot-5, Trump is 6-foot-3.
The two larger height differences were Abraham Lincoln (6’3.75) beating Stephen Douglas (5’4) in 1860 and James Madison (5’4) beating De Witt Clinton (6’3) in 1812.
4 | Halloween masks
Halloween and presidential elections are linked on the calendar, as people “vote” with their costume choices. Since 1980, the candidate whose Halloween mask sold better has won every election. And this year, Trump is outselling Clinton; Savers/Value Village reports a 53.5% to 46.5% split, and at Spirit Halloween stores it’s 55% to 45%. Now, there are certainly other outlying factors at play here (the gender difference affecting who’s buying which masks, people buying masks to mock rather than promote) — but we don’t have a breakdown of the motivations behind the purchases.
5 | Last name length
Not a particularly sexy metric here, but since 1900, the candidate with the longer last name is 15-9. (With three elections featuring names of equal length.) Clinton, at seven letters, beats Trump, at 5. It would’ve been a closer battle at “Drumpf.”
6 | First Lady cookie recipes
Before each presidential election, Family Circle magazine asks the potential first ladies to submit a cookie recipe. Then their readers vote on which recipe was better. From 1992 through 2012, the winning recipe has corresponded to the winning candidate every time but once. (Cindy McCain’s butterscotch cookies beat Michelle Obama’s shortbread cookies.)
Times, of course, have changed, and asking ladies for a cookie recipe while their men handle all the real stuff feels decidedly antiquated. Plus, ya know, one of the potential first ladies this year is a dude. (And I have a gut feeling the other one doesn’t do a ton of cooking.)
But the tradition persists nonetheless, albeit in slightly altered form. Melania Trump submitted a recipe for star cookies (basically sugar cookies in the shape of stars), and the “Clinton Family” submitted one for chocolate chip cookies. Not particularly inspired stuff. The Clintons won.
7 | Golden Globe and Academy Award Best Picture
Going back to 1960, if the same movie won the Golden Globe for Best Motion Picture – Drama and the Academy Award for Best Picture in an election year, the Republican candidate won. If different movies took down those awards, the Democrat won. The only exception was 1976, when One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest won both, but Gerald Ford lost.
At this year’s Golden Globes, The Revenant won Best Motion Picture – Drama. But at the Oscars, Spotlight won Best Picture. (I couldn’t name either of those off the top of my head. I’m slipping. Or movies are slipping.)
8 | Whatever punk kids think
Scholastic News has surveyed school-age kids since 1940 to see who they’d vote for if they could. They’ve gotten every election right except 1948 (they picked Dewey over Truman) and 1960 (they picked Nixon over Kennedy).
This year’s split was a big one: Clinton 52%, Trump 35%, write-in candidates (probably along the lines of “Deez Nuts” and “Homework Sucks” and such) 13%.
9 | Hair
Historians say candidates with better hair generally win, especially in elections in the television era. And this year… I mean, come on.
10 | Los Angeles Lakers
The Los Angeles Lakers have played in the NBA Finals in nine election years. Regardless of whether or not they won the title, in eight of those nine years, the Republican candidate went on to win. (McCain in 2008 was the only exception.) The Lakers didn’t make the NBA Finals this year — just about the polar opposite, in fact. And based on their trajectory, we’re in for a lot of Democrats in the future too.
11 | Astrology
In the previous two elections, I looked to Sylvia Browne, a legendary psychic who was always wrong. I would take her prediction, go with the opposite, and nail it every time. Sadly, she passed away in 2013, making this the first election where she couldn’t make a wrong prediction. Fortunately, the International Society for Astrological Research gathered a few weeks ago (in the eeerrrie beach town of Costa Mesa, California) and six members out of their six-person panel said the stars are leaning toward Clinton. Or rigged toward Clinton, depending on your viewpoint. Since these astrologers have never given me a reason to doubt them (like Browne) I guess we take their word for it.
So that’s eight methods for Clinton, two for Trump and one for a third party. Sad!