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5 Unscientific Predictors of the Presidential Race

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Sure, you could use polls to predict the outcome of the presidential election. Or you could look to these five predictors, which are as quirky as they are accurate.

THE COOKIE CONTEST

Kimberly Vardeman, YouTube // CC BY 2.0

Since 1992, Family Circle magazine has been pitting the potential First Spouses against one another—or at least, their recipes. In 1992, Hillary Clinton ruffled some feathers by answering criticism about being a working mom with a statement that didn’t sit too well with stay-at-home mothers: “I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies and had teas, but what I decided to do was to fulfill my profession, which I entered before my husband was in public life.”

Family Circle capitalized on the controversy and asked each potential First Lady—Clinton and Barbara Bush—to submit a family cookie recipe. Readers voted on the recipe they liked best, and the Commander-in-Chief-of-Cookies was crowned: Clinton’s oatmeal chocolate chip cookies beat Bush’s plain chocolate chips.

The winner of the cookie competition usually goes on to take up residence in the White House—it’s been right 5 out of 6 times, The Washington Post reports. The exception happened in 2008, when Cindy McCain’s oatmeal butterscotch cookies beat Michelle Obama’s shortbread cookies.

The winner of the 2016 election: Clinton. The Clinton Family Chocolate Chip Cookies (the same recipe submitted in 1992), have approximately 1500 votes, while Melania Trump’s star-shaped sour cream sugar cookies have just over 500 votes. You can cast your vote until October 4.

HALLOWEEN MASK SALES

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When the Spirit Halloween chain, the largest Halloween chain in the U.S., started keeping track of political mask sales in 1996, the company found that the most popular mask indicated the winner of the election. It may be unorthodox, but the method has accuracy on its side: So far, it has been 100 percent accurate.

The winner of the 2016 election: TBD. Halloween sales are in full swing now; Spirit Halloween has traditionally released its numbers closer to the end of October.

THE REDSKINS RULE

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This untraditional predictor goes all the way back to Franklin Roosevelt. If the Washington Redskins win their last home game prior to the election, the incumbent party will win. If Washington loses, the incumbent party loses. It’s not 100 percent accurate, but it’s pretty impressive: The first time the rule was proved wrong was 2012; however, an addendum to the rule had to be added in 2000, when Al Gore won the popular vote but lost the Electoral College:

“Redskins Rule 2.0 established that when the popular vote winner does not win the election, the impact of the Redskins game on the subsequent presidential election gets flipped.”

Steve Hirdt, director of information for ESPN’s Monday Night Football, discovered the correlation in 2000 when he was looking for an interesting graphic to put up on Monday Night Football.

The winner of the 2016 election: TBD. Their last home game is against the Eagles on October 16. As of September 29, the Eagles are 3-0 and the Redskins are 1-2.

The NBA FINALS

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Starting with John F. Kennedy in 1960, every time a Democrat has been elected, an Eastern Conference team has won the NBA Finals. Now, those aren't the only times the Eastern Conference has won—Eastern Conference teams have also won in years that a Republican candidate has been elected. But since JFK, no Western Conference team has won the same year a Democrat was elected.

The winner of the 2016 election: Clinton. The Eastern Conference’s Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Western Conference’s Golden State Warriors, 4 games to 3.

VIGO COUNTY, INDIANA

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Since 1888, the people of Vigo County, Indiana, have only gotten the president pick wrong twice. They voted for William Jennings Bryan over Taft in 1902, and in 1952, they chose Adlai Stevenson instead of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Indiana is known as the Crossroads of America, so perhaps they really do speak for the masses.

The winner of the 2016 election: Trump. We don't know for sure yet, of course, but early polls suggested that Vigo County is very much in favor of Trump.

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politics
The Secret Procedure for the Queen's Death
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The queen's private secretary will start an urgent phone tree. Parliament will call an emergency session. Commercial radio stations will watch special blue lights flash, then switch to pre-prepared playlists of somber music. As a new video from Half As Interesting relates, the British media and government have been preparing for decades for the death of Queen Elizabeth II—a procedure codenamed "London Bridge is Down."

There's plenty at stake when a British monarch dies. And as the Guardian explains, royal deaths haven't always gone smoothly. When the Queen Mother passed away in 2002, the blue "obit lights" installed at commercial radio stations didn’t come on because someone failed to depress the button fully. That's why it's worth it to practice: As Half as Interesting notes, experts have already signed contracts agreeing to be interviewed upon the queen's death, and several stations have done run-throughs substituting "Mrs. Robinson" for the queen's name.

You can learn more about "London Bridge is Down" by watching the video below—or read the Guardian piece for even more detail, including the plans for her funeral and burial. ("There may be corgis," they note.)

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History
Abraham Lincoln Letter About Slavery Could Fetch $700,000 at Auction
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Christie's Images Ltd. 2017

The Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, in which future president Abraham Lincoln spent seven debates discussing the issue of slavery with incumbent U.S. senator Stephen Douglas, paved the way for Lincoln’s eventual ascent to the presidency. Now part of that history can be yours, as the AP reports.

A signed letter from Lincoln to his friend Henry Asbury dated July 31, 1858 explores the “Freeport Question” he would later pose to Douglas during the debates, forcing the senator to publicly choose between two contrasting views related to slavery’s expansion in U.S. territories: whether it should be up to the people or the courts to decide where slavery was legal. (Douglas supported the popular choice argument, but that position was directly counter to the Supreme Court's Dred Scott decision.)

The first page of a letter from Abraham Lincoln to Henry Asbury
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In the letter, Lincoln was responding to advice Asbury had sent him on preparing for his next debate with Douglas. Asbury essentially framed the Freeport Question for the politician. In his reply, Lincoln wrote that it was a great question, but would be difficult to get Douglas to answer:

"You shall have hard work to get him directly to the point whether a territorial Legislature has or has not the power to exclude slavery. But if you succeed in bringing him to it, though he will be compelled to say it possesses no such power; he will instantly take ground that slavery can not actually exist in the territories, unless the people desire it, and so give it protective territorial legislation."

Asbury's influence didn't end with the debates. A founder of Illinois's Republican Party, he was the first to suggest that Lincoln should run for president in 1860, and secured him the support of the local party.

The letter, valued at $500,000 to $700,000, is up for sale as part of a books and manuscripts auction that Christie’s will hold on December 5.

[h/t Associated Press]

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