Who’s going to be the next US President? Those Australians who took a moment on Saturday to watch the second presidential debate would’ve seen a fired-up and fact-filled John Kerry (sidenote: why aren’t Australian election debates peppered with as much debate over facts as US ones?). One way to find out who’s going to win is to turn to the number-crunchers at Wharton. But another far more entertaining way is presented by my friend Gilles Serra, who uses ten tried and true methods to predict the result:
Prediction 1 = KERRY
THE TALLEST CANDIDATE WILL WIN
In the 19 U.S. presidential elections between 1888 and 1960, the taller candidate won the popular vote all but once, when Franklin Roosevelt (6’2”) beat Wendell Willkie (6’3”). In the 21 presidential elections from 1904 to 1984, the taller candidate won 80 percent of the time. As was made evident in the debates, Kerry is taller than Bush by 6”.
Prediction 2 = BUSH
THE CANDIDATE THAT SELLS MORE HALLOWEEN MASKS WILL WIN
Spookily enough, the sales of Halloween masks have predicted correctly the last six elections. The Economist reports that Bush masks are outselling Kerry masks by 57% to 43%.
Prediction 3 = BUSH
IF THE GDP GROWTH RATE IN THE SECOND QUARTER OF THE ELECTION YEAR IS LARGER THAN 2.6% THE INCUMBENT PARTY WILL WIN
This indicator has predicted the winner in every presidential election since 1952, except in 1968 where the main issue for voters was probably not the economy but the Vietnam War. The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimates that the GDP in the second quarter of 2004 grew 3.3%.
Prediction 4 = TOO CLOSE TO CALL
IF THE PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL RATING IN MID-JUNE IS ABOVE 51%, THE INCUMBENT WILL WIN; IF IT IS BELOW 45% THE INCUMBENT WILL LOSE; IF IT IS BETWEEN 45% AND 51% IT’S TOO CLOSE TO CALL
Research has proved that approval ratings in mid-June are a good predictor of presidential elections. Gallup reported that the presidential approval rating in mid-June was 48%, thus not yielding any prediction according to this rule.
Prediction 5 = TOO CLOSE TO CALL
THE CANDIDATE WHO IS AHEAD IN THE GALLUP POLLS IN THE SECOND WEEK OF OCTOBER WILL WIN
In every single election since 1952, the candidate leading the polls in mid-October has won the election. As of beginning of October, Gallup polls show a perfect tie between Kerry and Bush at 49% each.
Prediction 6 = KERRY
AS DELAWARE GOES, SO GOES THE NATION
Delaware is the only state that has voted for the winner in every election since 1952, except in 2000 where it voted for the winner of the popular vote (Gore) but not the winner of the Electoral College (Bush). As of beginning of October, Kerry is leading over Bush in Delaware, 45% to 38%
Prediction 7 = BUSH
THE CANDIDATE WHOSE FUTURE CONTRACT IS WORTH THE MOST MONEY IN THE IOWA ELECTRONIC MARKET WILL WIN
The Iowa Electronic Market sells vote-shares for Bush and Kerry, and their prices have correctly predicted every election since the IEM was created, except in 2000 when they predicted Bush would win the popular vote, but he only won the Electoral College. On October 5, at 5:00 pm ET, Bush shares were selling at 51 cents while Kerry shares were selling at 49 cents.
Prediction 8 = BUSH
IF THE AMERICAN LEAGUE WINS THE WORLD SERIES, THE REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE WILL WIN
This famous rule has predicted correctly 14 out of 17 elections between 1920 and 1984. It was also the unique predictor to be correct in 2000, when the New York Yankees (American League) beat the New York Mets (National League) thus predicting a Bush victory, whereas every economic indicator was predicting a Gore victory. In 2004 Kerry’s home team, the Red Sox (American League), won the World Series.
Prediction 9 = KERRY
THE CANDIDATE WITH THE LONGEST LAST NAME WILL WIN
Of the 22 elections between 1876 and 1960, the longer-named candidate has always won, except in 1908, when Taft (4 letters) beat Bryan (5 letters).
Prediction 10 = KERRY
IF THE BEAUJOLAIS WINE HARVEST IS GOOD, THE DEMOCRAT WILL WIN
This is another famous rule in American political history, but is it still valid today? I suspect it might have to be revised given Americans’ new attitude toward French wine (remember those bottles publicly emptied in the drains?). In any case, the Beaujolais grape is looking great this year after overcoming a tough drought in France over the summer, according to just-drinks.com.