Hems, Sports and Even Vino Dress Up Election Forecasting

By Billups, Andrea | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), November 4, 2000 | Go to article overview

Hems, Sports and Even Vino Dress Up Election Forecasting


Billups, Andrea, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Following the election but tired of tracking all those darned polls?

Then consider, for yucks, the fun stuff, the unscientific armchair quarterbacking and cosmic crystal-balling that's giving political devotees something more to chatter about amid the din of party spin.

From dress lengths to wine quality to victory on the football and baseball fields, unusual prognostication methods abound in what some are predicting will be the tightest contest for the White House in 40 years.

According to fashionista folklore, dropping hemlines signal a win for the GOP and have successfully predicted the presidential outcome in eight of the last 11 elections.

In the 1960, 1964 and 1976 election years, dress lengths went up, and the Democrats won. But in 1952, 1956, 1972, 1984 and 1988, lengths either went down or stayed the same, signaling a Republican victory. The exceptions were in 1968 and 1980, when skirts were shorter but the Democrats took a hit. In 1992, when hemlines went down, President Clinton overcame the style equation and was elected anyway.

A Washington Redskins loss is a downer for Beltway fans but a cause to party in the Bush camp, or so the story goes.

Since 1937, when the team moved to the District from Boston, the outcome of its last home game has successfully predicted the outcome of the presidential race, a tidbit touted on "Monday Night Football." When the Redskins win at home, the incumbent prevails, but, when they lose, the opponent is successful. In this year's game, the Redskins lost to the Tennessee Titans 27-21, a signal that the Republicans would reclaim the White House.

Sports lore also suggests that if the National League takes the World Series in an election year, the Democrat wins, but if an American League team is victorious, so are Republicans. The success rate for this rule is eight out of 13 series.

With the Yankees taking this year's title, George W. Bush, who once was part-owner of the Texas Rangers, should win big time when the polls close on Nov. 7.

There is one presidential poll that might well be taken seriously, despite the fact that none of the respondents can cast a vote.

For the past 11 presidential elections - since 1956 - students polled by the Weekly Reader, a periodical used by many schools around the nation, have successfully named the next president. It is an amazing and "uncanny" record for predictions, say officials at the Stamford, Conn.-based magazine.

This year's winner is Mr. Bush, by a wide margin. Children who participated in the survey picked the Texas governor to win with a landslide 65.8 percent of the vote.

If their prediction seems too skewed to believe, note that respected pollster John Zogby compiled the results.

"The uncanny way that Weekly Reader students predict the vote says to me that kids are learning about politics at home," said Weekly Reader Executive Editor Charlie Piddock. "They are picking up cues about their parents' political preferences, even if it's from the offhand comments made while watching the news. …

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