Halloween & Election Night: Democracy Intertwined?

The scary historical connection between the best selling presidential Halloween masks and who will win the election.

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“Trump masks are outselling Hillary masks 3-1,” said Howie Beige, executive vice president of Rubie’s costume shop in NYC, founded in 1951. “I am definitely surprised by the demand. We will be in production until the last few days before Halloween on these items.… At this point, we’re behind demand.”

It’s been a truism for almost 40 years now: The best selling presidential Halloween mask means certain victory for that candidate. It all began with the rubber likeness of Ronald Reagan in 1980; he out sold Jimmy Carter by hundreds of thousands and went on to one of the biggest landslide victories in presidential American political history. Even though it wasn’t being officially tracked, Richard “Tricky Dick” Nixon’s mask in 1972 was one of the most popular Halloween masks—still selling well to this day!— in the history of the holiday. He won in a landslide.

But let’s take a closer look.

According to Spirit Halloween, the country’s largest Halloween seasonal retailer, in 1996, Bill Clinton masks accounted for 71% of sales, while Bob Dole masks sold at just 29%. On November 8th, Clinton won big.

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In the 2000 election, according to Spirit Halloween, Bush’s mask sales beat Al Gore’s by 57% to 43%. Bush then won one of the closest—and most contested—elections in American presidential history. (The rumor was that even George went as “himself” for Halloween, going as far as donning one of “his” masks as he roamed the neighborhood trick or treatin’.)

In the 2004 election, President Bush had a 55% to 45% percent mask selling lead over John Kerry. A week later Bush won the election. Daniel Haight, chief operating officer of New Berlin-based Buyseasons, which owns buycostumes.com, said of the phenomenon: “The mask sales have been 100 percent accurate since we tracked it.”

In 2008, Obama beat Sen. John McCain in masks sales by 62% to 38%, according to Halloween Retailer. Of course, Obama crushed McCain nine days later. The 1,000-store chain even has its own “presidential index,” which uses nationwide sales of candidates’ masks to predict the presidential outcome. They have been right every time.

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In 2012, President Obama masks outsold those of Mitt Romney by a 60% to 40% margin, according to Spirit Halloween. Said Lisa Barr, senior director of marketing there: “Let’s face it: A lot of people are going out and supporting their candidate by wearing their masks.”

So what about this year? All bets are off, right? I mean, we’ve never seen a more hair-raising, blood-curling, primal, ghastly and ghoulish election than this one. Will history be able to tame this wild beast of an election—or will it simply buck the famous and deadly accurate trends?

“With such a historic and eventful year in politics, we are eager to track the progress of our candidate mask sales as a fun comparison to more traditional polls,” said Steven Silverstein, president and CEO of Spirit Halloween. “Our Presidential Mask Index is an exciting and spirited way to bring together two American traditions: Halloween and Democracy.”

This year, Spirit Halloween teamed up with Harris Poll to survey more than 2,000 U.S. adults, asking why they would dress up as either candidate this Halloween.

As of right now, Trump leads 55% to 45%.

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But why a double digit lead for Trump when Hillary is virtually winning in all the polls?

According to the survey, the top reason Americans chose Donald Trump is to be funny (39%), whereas the top reason Americans choose Hillary Clinton is because they like her (31%). About one out of four Republicans (23%) and Democrats (27%) who indicated that they would dress up as the opposite party’s candidate would do so to frighten America. Twice as many Americans who would choose to dress up as Donald Trump say they would do so to mock him, compared to Americans who would choose to dress as Hillary Clinton to mock her (32% vs. 16%).

In another outlandish twist for Clinton supporters, according to Rubie’s Costume Co. of New York City, which bills itself as the world’s largest manufacturer and supplier of Halloween costumes, Trump is killing it.

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“Trump masks are outselling Hillary masks 3-1,” said Howie Beige, executive vice president of Rubie’s, which was founded by his parents in 1951. “I am definitely surprised by the demand. We will be in production until the last few days before Halloween on these items.… At this point, we’re behind demand.”

In fact, according to Beige, Trump is even challenging President Nixon as far as total sales numbers go, which is quite a feat.

To be sure, all this spine-chilling information is enough to frighten Hillary supporters, especially when matched up with history. But: Are people buying the Trump masks just to make fun of him or do they plan to vote for him?

Beige has a theory. ”Many are buying it to mock him.”

Or maybe to simply give their neighbors a fright.

Either way, the mask factories in China and Mexico will make a fortune.

Oh, the devilish irony. Boo!

 

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