The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Opinion

October 25, 2012

Election prognostication comes in unusual forms

ENID, Okla. — President Barack Obama will win re-election when the country goes to the polls Nov. 6.

Or not.

The polls are all over the place.

The president leads in the PPP, IBD/TIPP and UPI/CVOTER polls, while challenger Mitt Romney holds the edge in the ABC/Post, Ipsos/Reuters, Gallup, Rasmussen and AP/GfK polls.

Which means what? Nothing, fortunately. We don’t choose our leaders through opinion polls, but through the votes of men and women across the country.

Well, not exactly. Rather than a true national election, each presidential race is a series of statewide elections. Win the right states, and you win the White House. Don’t, and you could end up losing, even while capturing the popular vote. At present, the president is leading in some of the key battleground states that figure to decide the election.

To be sure, the national polls are divided, and the race, for all intents and purposes, is presently a dead heat.

So perhaps it is high time to consult some, shall we say, non-traditional polling methods.

Allan Lichtman, a history professor at American University, has developed his 13 Keys to the Presidency, a list that judges the incumbent president on a baker’s dozen factors, including the strength of the economy, the state of social unrest, lack of a serious third-party candidate and the absence of a major scandal.

The good professor’s system has been correctly predicting presidential elections since 1984. This year’s pick? President Obama.

Mitt Romney comes out on top in a model produced by two Michigan economists, who factor in income, unemployment, inflation, whether the country is at war and the impact of a third-party candidate.

This model shows Romney will win by three percentage points.

They say misery loves company. That may be so, but the misery index favors the president.

The misery index combines the unemployment rate and the annual inflation rate. At the end of the third quarter the misery index stood at 9.8 percent, down from 11.3 percent four years ago, which appears to point to an Obama victory. The misery index has been correct in nine of the past 12 elections.

But enough of the quasi-scientific stuff, let’s get to the real predictions. The folks at 7-Eleven are offering coffee in blue cups for supporters of President Obama and red ones for Romney supporters. The store chain’s cup poll has successfully predicted the past three winners. Currently, Obama is leading 59-41 percent.

A pair of costume shops, buycostumes.com and Spirit Halloween Store, claim they can predict the winner through sales of Romney and Obama masks. Buycostumes.com has been right for the past three elections, while Spirit has correctly predicted the past four winners.

Buycostumes.com, which also sells Joe Biden and Paul Ryan masks, shows the Democratic ticket leading 51-49 percent, though both parties will likely be left in the dust by Lady Gaga and the Avengers.

At Spirit, the president is out-polling his rival 60 percent to 40 percent, though Gov. Romney reportedly is trailing Big Bird.

American Chia, the Chia Pet folks, have their own survey going through sales of Chia Obama and Chia Romney statuettes.

Chia Obama is leading at 63 percent, with Chia Romney coming in at 37 percent. Of course, if the seeds grow as advertised, the Chia Romney will be a far more accurate likeness, given the governor’s luxiurent head of hair.

Not to be outdone, sports are weighing in with a couple of presidential predictors.

One will come Nov. 4 when the Washington Redskins host the Carolina Panthers. If the Redskins win, President Obama will be re-elected, while Romney will get the nod of they lose. The outcome of the Redskins’ final home game before the election has correctly predicted 17 of the past 18 presidential votes. Given the Panthers’ ineptness this season, the president appears to have the edge here.

The San Francisco Giants’ opening game victory over Detroit in the World Series likewise is a good sign for Democrats. When the American League wins the World Series in an election year, the Republican candidate rules the day, while a National League victory means the Democrats will win. This has held true in 16 of 23 elections since 1920, including the past three.

Youth are the future of the nation, so you can’t expect them to be left out of the presidential prediction sweepstakes.

The Scholastic Student Vote poll, open to those under 18, has correctly predicted all but two races since 1940. The kids chose Obama 51-45 percent, with the president taking the key battleground states of Ohio, Florida and Colorado.

But all of the other presidential prognostication pales in comparison with the truest measure of the country’s mood.

Don’t worry about coffee, Chia heads, football or the economy, the only true measure of how the country will vote come election day is ... cookies.

The Family Circle magazine cookie contest pits the candidates’ wives against one another. Each submits a cookie recipe, with the magazine’s readers selecting a winner.

This year, Michelle Obama’s white and dark chocolate cookies beat out Ann Romney’s M&M Cookies 51.5 to 48.4 percent.

The only time the cookie poll failed to predict the winner was 2008, when Cindy McCain’s oatmeal-butterscotch cookies beat out Mrs. Obama’s citrusy shortbread cookies.

So who will win come Nov. 6? Who knows. Pass me a cookie.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at jmullin@enidnews.com.

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