Forget polls and expert analysis. The winner of the 2012 presidential election could come down to how well Robert Griffin III or Cam Newton plays on the first Sunday of November.
For years, pollsters have used the scientific sampling of audiences to forecast the presidential election's outcome. And sometimes they are right.
But in other cases, like the 2000 election and that whole Harry Truman incident in 1948, the pollsters--and a few TV networks--can get it wrong.
So if you are looking for some additional signs about who will be the next president, here are six nontraditional indicators to gauge the winner of the Obama-Romney race.
The Redskins Factor
The Redskins rule is known inside the Beltway and has held true in 17 of 18 cases, in the electoral vote.
Quite simply, if the Washington Redskins win their last home game before the election, the incumbent party will win the presidential election.
And this year, the match-up features the two hottest young quarterbacks in the NFL: Robert Griffin III and Cam Newton.
This year, the Redskins take on the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, November 4. Expect President Obama to be cheering for the Redskins and Mitt Romney should be sporting a Panthers' jersey.
Only the Kerry-Bush election of 2004 broke the precedent, and some proponents of the rule don’t accept that as a true defeat, because of the Bush-Gore election controversy of 2000.
Cable TV news ratings
Do the national numbers for people who watch cable TV news shout fests really reveal who is winning the election?
Hey, here is a list of questions:
- What effect do campaign ads have on elections?
- What qualities do kids think are important for the President to have?
- An on-line tool from NPR enables you and your class to predict the 2012 Presidential election.
Former CNN president Reese Schonfeld, in a story on the Huffington Post, crunches the numbers for Fox, CNN, HLN (the former Headline News), and MSNBC.
Schonfeld says Fox has a slight edge: over CNN, HLN and MSNBC combined! That puts the general election, in terms of the popular vote, in a virtual tie.
Schonfeld also says that Fox lags three other networks, when combined, by 50 percent when it comes to viewers under 54 years of age. He believes it is further evidence that President Obama needs to reach older voters to be successful.
The presidential height theory
Yes, the New York Times, the paper of record, did look at the offbeat theory that the taller of two presidential candidates has an advantage in the election.
The Times broke out its historical tape measure and went back in 1896, measuring and weighing candidates up to the 2008 campaign involving Barack Obama and John McCain.
Taller candidates went 18-8 in head-to-head races where there was a height difference. (Obama was 4 inches taller than McCain), Heavier candidates also went 18-8 in comparable races.
So what about 2012? According to the Obama’s physical in 2010, he was 6 feet 1 inches tall and weighed 180 pounds. Mitt Romney is reportedly 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighs 197 pounds, but the Romney information isn’t confirmed.
We may need a weigh at the first presidential debate to settle the issue.
The World Series incumbent indicator
This is based on our own Constitution Daily research, after our initial theory on Super Bowl winners washed out. Since World War II, the incumbent president has won re-election 60 percent of the time the American League has won the World Series just prior to the election, while the incumbents have lost when the National League won.
Here is the record:
- American League wins Series, incumbent gets re-elected: Truman, Eisenhower, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton and George W. Bush
- American League wins, incumbent loses: George H.W. Bush (blame the Toronto Blue Jays)
- National League wins, incumbent loses: Carter, Ford
- National League wins, incumbent wins: Johnson
We would expect Barack Obama to be rooting for the American League in October.
The Ezra Klein Washington Post Prediction Machine
The Washington Post’s Ezra Klein has an online interactive calculator that lets you put in two numbers--President Obama’s approval number and the GDP growth rate--to predict the winner of the 2012 election.
Klein says political scientists at three universities came up with the formula, and says it has been accurate in 12 of 16 elections.
So far, annualized GDP has grown 1.5 percent between the first quarter of 2012 and the second quarter. According to Gallup, Obama’s approval rating in late July was 46 percent.
The WaPo calculator puts the chances of an Obama re-election at 76 percent, based on those numbers.
The third quarter GDP numbers come out just before the election on October 26.
Halloween masks for candidates
In past years, the most popular Halloween masks for candidates have been solid indicators of who will win the election.
The past four winners in the Halloween masks sweepstakes were Bill Clinton (1996), George W. Bush (2004 and 2008), and Barack Obama (2008).
The worst selling masks were for Bob Dole and John Kerry.
But the mask indicator isn't that accurate for vice presidential candidates: Sarah Palin outsold Joe Biden by a 3 to 1 margin in 2008.
In the current mask tracking poll on Buycostumes.com, Obama has a 62 percent share of candidate mask sales, compared with 38 percent for Romney.
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