Mitt Romney mask
Who will win this November's presidential election? Spirit Halloween - the nationwide chain of Halloween-themed stores that pop up in strip malls far and wide - thinks it can predict the answer. And the "science" behind the chain's prediction is simple: which candidate sells more Halloween masks at its stores.
Mitt Romney mask
According to Spirit Halloween, which has locations in 49 states, presidential mask sales at its stores have accurately predicted who will be the next president, without fail, each election since 1996. If you're buying what Spirit Halloween is selling, this means four presidential contests in a row have been correctly foretold by Halloween mask sales.
Because capitalism is a beautiful thing, the national chain has attempted to humorously capitalize on this trend, naming this unscientific polling method its "Presidential Index".
In 2008, for example, people bought more Obama masks than John McCain masks by a measure of 60 percent to 40 percent. In 2004, people bought more George W. Bush masks than John Kerry masks (shocker!), 65 percent to 35 percent. Way back in 1996, even before the Lewinsky scandal broke, people were buying Bill Clinton masks like they were going out of style - with the incumbent president besting challenger Bob Doyle in Halloween masks sales 71 percent to 29 percent.
Barack Obama mask
"Election years are always exciting times around Spirit Halloween, as our Presidential Index has proven to be a consistent and accurate predictor of the next president for nearly two decades," Steven Silverstein, CEO and president of Spirit Halloween, said in a press release from early September announcing a partnership between his company and Rock The Vote. There's a good chance Silverstein was smiling and winking while providing the quotable line.
So what will happen his year? Currently updated through the last week of September (which obviously doesn't include whatever bump Romney received from his debate performance in Denver), according to numbers provided by the PR firm that represents Spirit Halloween people have so far purchased more Obama masks than Romney masks, by a total of 65 percent to 35 percent. This total takes into account mask sales throughout the 49 states where Spirit Halloween operates, and the company plans to update the numbers each week until the final vote is taken.
While it's hard to argue with such "science," it makes one wonder how presidential mask sales are faring in swing states like Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Florida, Nevada, Virginia, North Carolina and New Hampshire. Unfortunately, the Spirit Halloween Presidential Index isn't yet advanced enough to make such calculations. The PR firm representing the company says swing state mask sales aren't specifically being tracked at the moment, but does note that in 2008 Obama led in every state a Spirit Halloween store calls home.