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Can Halloween mask sales predict the outcome of the election?

Posted at 8:40 PM, Oct 26, 2016

CINCINNATI — As Halloween approaches and this year’s presidential polls fluctuate from week to week, the spooky (or desperate) among us might feel compelled to consult a ouija board for a more reliable prediction of the outcome.

Before you pick up that planchette, we’ve got good news: You might not have to ask the spirit world for advice just yet. There’s another scarily accurate (and seasonally appropriate) way to forecast the outcome of the election.

According to a news release from national costume retailer Spirit Halloween, the candidate with the most-purchased Halloween mask has been the winner of each of the last five presidential elections. Bill Clinton outstripped Bob Dole in 1996, George W. Bush beat Gore and Kerry in 2000 and 2004; and Barack Obama’s face outsold John McCain’s in 2008 and Mitt Romney’s in 2012.

So how are this year’s candidates doing in the Tri-State? Local costume shops say Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are as closely tied here as they are everywhere else.

"I would say it’s pretty well dead even," said Ray Cappel, a co-owner of Cappel’s Annex. "This year is probably one of the strongest political years we’ve ever seen because both candidates have such different characteristics that we see a lot of people wanting to go out, wanting to have fun."

Joy Galbraith of the Newport (Kentucky) Costume Gallery said the same is true at her shop: On Wednesday evening, she had two Clinton and two Trump masks left.

Spirit Halloween’s Presidential Mask Index found in September that more Americans would choose to dress as Trump than Clinton this Halloween, but many of them made the choice because they thought a Trump costume would be funnier.

"Donald is such a character," Galbraith said. "You could really play the part well and say a lot of funny things."

Although Hillary Clinton’s mask may be slightly less popular than Donald Trump’s, one member of the Clinton family performs reliably in Halloween shops every year, according to Cappel: Bill.

"Bill Clinton is a perennial," Cappel said. "He is good every year for us."