When electoral maps overwhelm and statistical margins of error confound, pollsters and political commentators struggle to measure the outcome of the presidential race. Here are a few alternatives for predicting the election.
1. Check the CafePress Meter
CafePress, the maker of customized t-shirts and other swag, has been tracking the sales of candidate paraphernalia since January. The candidates have inspired the public to design nearly 5.8 million custom items for sale on the site. Obama's sales peaked in June, accounting for 77 percent of all sales through the website, and currently out-sell McCain. However, in mid-September, McCain merchandise outpaced Obama items. Throughout the campaign, Sarah Palin merchandise has almost always beaten Joe Biden's sales numbers.
2. Gauge Their Soda Pop-ularity
Campaign supporters vote by the bottle at Jones Cola. The company is tracking the candidates' soda pop-ularity at Campaign Cola 2008. Joe six-packs everywhere can choose between Yes We Can Cola and Pure McCain Cola, or even Ron Paul Revolution Cola and Capitol Hillary Cola if they're nostalgic for the primaries. (As of Tuesday afternoon, Obama was ahead of McCain, 15,216 bottles to 3,726. Ron Paul's soda-loving followers have put him in second place, with 6,606 bottles sold.)
3. Look to the Stars (We Don't Mean Matt Damon or Jon Voight)
At least one astrologer predicts that Leo Obama will win over Virgo McCain. Another astrologer predicts an Obama win with a margin of at least 10 percent. Astrologer Raj Kumar Sharma noted that America is entering the age of Aquarius. Also, by the Chinese calendar, 2008 is the year of the Rat, the same as McCain's birth year. Obama was born in the year of the Ox, and 2009 is also the year of the Ox.
4. Have a Facebook-Friend-Off
Facebook may not yet rule the world, but if it did, Obama would out-friend McCain more than 4 to 1. Of course, Facebook's younger crowd might skew the results, but according to professor Christine Williams, the social networking edge can translate into a real-world boost of 3 percent.
5. Poll the Trick-or-Treaters
Voting with Halloween costumes instead of ballots, Obama would be ahead 55% to 45%. The costume website also breaks down the presidential mask popularity by state, in case you want to compare it to the electoral college. Mask predictions held true according to statistics back to 1980. They might be more accurate than current election polls as well.
6. Let the Redskins Decide
Legend has it that the football forecasts the winning party of the presidential election. Since 1936, every time the Washington Redskins win their final homegame before the presidential election, the incumbent party wins. This did not hold true in 2004 when the Redskins lost but incumbent Republican Bush won. Good news for Democrats—last night, the Pittsburgh Steelers marched into Washington and defeated the Skins 23-6.