Wacky Ways to Make Presidential Election Predictions

by Joe Fuld (He/Him)

Monkey and kids wearing tin foil hats and 3D movie glasses with radio and notepad

Presidential Election Predictions Can Be Made in Pretty Weird Ways

Looking for accurate presidential election predictions? As Election Day approaches, it seems like every news channel will reference the latest polls or how many points ahead Trump or Biden are in the race for the White House. But as scientific and data centric as polls can be, there are a few unconventional ways to make presidential election predictions, and most are eerily correct. Check out our podcast on election predictions

Washington Football Team Rule

Whether you root for Washington or you root for the team playing against them, you might be cheering for a different team depending on the way you want presidential elections to go. If the Washington Football team win their last home game before the election, the incumbent party will stay in power. The only time this unconventional election prediction has been incorrect was in 2004 when both Washington and John Kerry lost. In 2016, Washington and the Bengals tied 27-27. In 2020 the Washington Football Team beat the Dallas Cowboys 25-3 on October 25.

Presidential Election Prediction 2020: Trump  2016: Tie

7-Eleven Cups

Although this unconventional way to predict the presidency is more logical than most, it is still strangely accurate. Starting on Sept. 6, 7-Eleven is “polling” coffee drinkers nationwide by offering politically themed coffee cups. In the past two elections, the 7-Eleven election poll, or as they call it the "7-Election", has mirrored nationwide voting percentages. But in 2016 For the first time, 7-Eleven included an undecided cup to cater to undecided voters. 

Presidential Election Prediction 2020: TBD 2016: Clinton

First Lady Bake-Off

Named the Presidential Cookie Poll in 2016 instead of the First Lady Bake-Off (Thanks, Bill), this prediction method has been able to correctly predict the presidential election outcome since 1992. Usually, the contest is between the two potential first ladies, but last year the contest was between the Clinton Family’s chocolate chip cookie and Melania Trump’s Star Cookies. Unfortunately, family circle magazine has closed and there is no bakeoff in 2020. 

Presidential Election Prediction 2020: CANCELLED 2016: Clinton

Halloween Masks

With Election Day right around the corner from Halloween, it is festively fitting for people around the nation to dress up as the next potential president on the scariest day of the year. Since 1996, Spirit Halloween has accurately predicted who would win the presidency based on sales of presidential candidate masks. For 2020 with social distancing and minimal trick or treating it is hard to see this having the same sample size as the past. 

Presidential Election Prediction 2020: Trump 2016: Trump

Scholastic Poll

Although most of the students who participated in this year’s Scholastic Presidential Poll are too young to vote, they are still making their voices heard and voting online for the candidate of their choice. Scholastic has mirrored the outcome of presidential elections since 1940; their prediction has only been wrong twice. The first time was in 1948 when students picked Thomas E. Dewey over Harry S. Truman, and the second time in 1960 when students chose Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy. This year, 153,000 students nationwide, from kindergarten through grade 12, voted online or by mail-in paper ballot.

Presidential Election Prediction 2020: Biden 2016: Clinton

Who’s Taller? The taller candidate wins.

They say that the country hasn’t elected a bald president since Dwight D. Eisenhower due to the advent of TV and media. But what about short presidents? This next predictor isn’t based on a candidate’s hair, although certain hairstyles may well help them in this category. A 2011 study by a Texas Tech political science professor found that people prefer taller leaders. It also found taller people think of themselves as more qualified to be leaders and are also more likely to pursue leadership positions. 

Presidential Election Prediction 2020: Trump (either 6’ 2” or 6’ 3”) / Biden (6’ 0”)
2016: Trump (either 6’ 2” or 6’ 3”) / Clinton (5’ 4” or 5’ 5”)

The Oscars Method: How Did the Most Recent “Best Picture” Winner End? 

For the movie buffs out there, this next predictor might be your favorite! If the movie ends on a sad note, then the White House will change hands. The 2020 best picture winner was Parasite and in 2016 it was Spotlight. Without giving away the endings, we’ll just say that based on this predictor.

Presidential Election Prediction 2020: Biden 2016: Unclear 

Chinese Mystic Monkey 

In an Ecological Tourism Park in China, a monkey named Geda has earned the name “King of Prophets” for his ability to correctly predict the outcome of European soccer matches. In 2016, his handlers thought he might want to weigh in on the election, and Geda chose Donald Trump, going so far as to give a cardboard cutout of the president a big kiss. 

Presidential Election Prediction 2020: TBD 2016: Trump

What can learn from the methods we highlight?

For one thing, the economy drives a ton of the models and during COVID-19 that will be a big factor. Likeability is also an important factor, not just likeability of the candidate but also of the incumbent party. Academics, pundits, and political consultants spend a ton of time making presidential election predictions. But are their predictions any better than flipping a coin or choosing on the basis of who wins a football game? In 2016, of the eight wacky presidential election predictions on this list, four predicted Clinton, four predicted Trump and one was indeterminate. We will have to wait until November to see if the wacky methods or the academic models are more accurate.

As we approach Election Day, it’s important to remember that the only real way to determine what will happen is to mail in your ballot or head to the polls and encourage your friends and family to do the same. These unconventional polls are a fun, festive way to remind everyone the importance of making your voice heard and voting by Nov. 3!