5 Unscientific Predictors of the Presidential Race

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Sure, you could use polls to predict the outcome of the presidential election. Or you could look to these five predictors, which are as quirky as they are accurate.


Kimberly Vardeman, YouTube // CC BY 2.0

Since 1992, Family Circle magazine has been pitting the potential First Spouses against one another—or at least, their recipes. In 1992, Hillary Clinton ruffled some feathers by answering criticism about being a working mom with a statement that didn’t sit too well with stay-at-home mothers: “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.”

Family Circle capitalized on the controversy and asked each potential First Lady—Clinton and Barbara Bush—to submit a family cookie recipe. Readers voted on the recipe they liked best, and the Commander-in-Chief-of-Cookies was crowned: Clinton’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies beat Bush’s plain chocolate chips.

The winner of the cookie competition usually goes on to take up residence in the White House—it’s been right 5 out of 6 times, The Washington Post reports. The exception happened in 2008, when Cindy McCain’s oatmeal butterscotch cookies beat Michelle Obama’s shortbread cookies.

The winner of the 2016 election: Clinton. The Clinton Family Chocolate Chip Cookies (the same recipe submitted in 1992), have approximately 1500 votes, while Melania Trump’s star-shaped sour cream sugar cookies have just over 500 votes. You can cast your vote until October 4.



When the Spirit Halloween chain, the largest Halloween chain in the U.S., started keeping track of political mask sales in 1996, the company found that the most popular mask indicated the winner of the election. It may be unorthodox, but the method has accuracy on its side: So far, it has been 100 percent accurate.

The winner of the 2016 election: TBD. Halloween sales are in full swing now; Spirit Halloween has traditionally released its numbers closer to the end of October.



This untraditional predictor goes all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt. If the Washington Redskins win their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party will win. If Washington loses, the incumbent party loses. It’s not 100 percent accurate, but it’s pretty impressive: The first time the rule was proved wrong was 2012; however, an addendum to the rule had to be added in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College:

“Redskins Rule 2.0 established that when the popular vote winner does not win the election, the impact of the Redskins game on the subsequent presidential election gets flipped.”

Steve Hirdt, director of information for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, discovered the correlation in 2000 when he was looking for an interesting graphic to put up on Monday Night Football.

The winner of the 2016 election: TBD. Their last home game is against the Eagles on October 16. As of September 29, the Eagles are 3-0 and the Redskins are 1-2.



Starting with John F. Kennedy in 1960, every time a Democrat has been elected, an Eastern Conference team has won the NBA Finals. Now, those aren't the only times the Eastern Conference has won—Eastern Conference teams have also won in years that a Republican candidate has been elected. But since JFK, no Western Conference team has won the same year a Democrat was elected.

The winner of the 2016 election: Clinton. The Eastern Conference’s Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Western Conference’s Golden State Warriors, 4 games to 3.



Since 1888, the people of Vigo County, Indiana, have only gotten the president pick wrong twice. They voted for William Jennings Bryan over Taft in 1902, and in 1952, they chose Adlai Stevenson instead of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Indiana is known as the Crossroads of America, so perhaps they really do speak for the masses.

The winner of the 2016 election: Trump. We don't know for sure yet, of course, but early polls suggested that Vigo County is very much in favor of Trump.