As suspect as I believe polls and political surveys are, I was intrigued by this little bit of voter insight: Halloween mask sales. Apparently, presidential candidate mask sales have accurately forecasted the winner of that year’s presidential election since 1996. It would seem that Halloween mask wearers are representative of voters as a whole.
The seemingly bad news for Romney supporters is that mask sales for 2012 has Obama outpacing Romney by 20%. Between the masks of the two candidates, Obama masks are running around 60%, with Romney at 40%. I wouldn’t make too much of this, based on the fact that neither mask even looks like its respective candidate. However, it is an important statistic, primarily because it is one of the very few pre-election indicators that isn’t sponsored by, or tallied by, the media.
Lisa Barr, a director of marketing for one of the country’s largest Halloween retailers says: “A lot of people are going out and supporting their candidate by wearing their masks.” Maybe. It would seem that she has the historic data to make such a statement, but I also wonder how many masks are being bought and worn by non-supporters of a particular candidate. After all, this is Halloween; a time when people dress up as something other than what they are normally. It wouldn’t at all surprise me to find out on November 6 that many Obama masks were being worn by Romney voters, and vice versa.
More than any other recent election, especially since 1996, this election is about choosing sides. Halloween masks have been correct as a predictor of election outcomes, as CNN Money points out:
Obama beat out Sen. John McCain in mask sales in 2008 with the same split as this year. The retailer also predicted a President George W. Bush win over Sen. John Kerry in 2004, a 2000 Bush victory over former Vice President Al Gore, and a Sen. Bob Dole defeat by President Bill Clinton in 1996.
But none of these previous elections have been as polarizing as this one has proven to be. If the mask sales of Obama and Romney masks were closer than 60/40, I would be more prone to think that the sales were indicating reality. However, since the sales are so disparate, I tend to believe that they are actually telling the opposite of what the historic sales have predicted. That is, rather than being a 20% sign of support for the current president, I believe the mask sales of 2012 are telling a different story.
Who wouldn’t rather dress up as Obama for a Halloween party? Nobody will think twice when Obama mask wearers take twice as much candy and cake at a party, because after all, this is the “stimulus” at work. Romney mask wearers would be expected to bring twice as much to a party, while Obama mask wearers can take twice as much. Not to mention the fact that Halloween is about being scary, and who better to scare fellow partiers than President Obama?
It remains to be seen what the mask data for 2012 really predicts, but for my candy I’m betting on this being the first election where the winner is really the loser. That’s my story (for now) and I’m sticking to it.