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Facing the Politics

Mask sales seen as better vote predictors than pundits
Sunday, October 31, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:28 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 6, 2008

Dressed in a Playboy bunny outfit, toy gun slung over one shoulder, Aaro Froese, owner of Gotcha! costume shop in Columbia, doesn’t look the part of a political pundit.

But wait! According to BuyCostumes.com’s Presidential Mask Election Predictor, costume shop owners such as Froese should be able to predict the outcome of the election based on the number of George W. Bush or John Kerry masks sold. If more Bush masks are sold, he’s likely to win.

Based on its online sales, BuyCostume.com has correctly predicted the Election Day victor since Ronald Reagan ousted incumbent Jimmy Carter in 1980. The company predicted that Reagan would receive 60 percent of the vote to Carter’s 40 percent. The result: Reagan, 50.7 percent, Carter 41 percent. In 2000, though, the company predicted that Bush would win the popular vote by a tiny margin.

Froese doesn’t put much stock in the correlation between mask sales and presidential elections.

“If we’re using Halloween masks as a predictor, Bill Clinton would win this election,” said Froese, although Kerry started out as an underdog because his masks were delayed coming off the production line. Many stores didn’t have Kerry masks until well into September, and stores such as The Costume Shop in Springfield still haven’t received them.

At Gotcha! Froese sold out of 48 Bush masks, and had sold 38 of 48 Kerry masks. Froese pointed out that some of the Bush mask buyers have said they planned to use them in effigies, evening the tally.

“I had one guy come in here dressed as the grim reaper, and he wanted a Bush mask to top off his costume,” he said.

Geneva Campbell, owner of Costumes and More in Kansas City, also said it was important to factor in other popular Democrats such as Clinton and John F. Kennedy, who have been very popular this season. Including these past presidents, she said the two parties are running neck and neck, very much like pre-election polls.

Mask sales aren’t a dead heat everywhere. Gaylen Patterson, The Costume Shop’s owner, has sold five out of six Bush masks — all to supporters.

Campbell, however, said that the real winners this Halloween are superheroes such as Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Robin. These characters, though, along with another popular superhero this season, Arnold Schwarzenegger, aren’t eligible for the presidency.


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