Tue, Nov 02, 2004 - Page 7 News List

The Gods, it seems, are smiling on lucky Kerry

QUIRKS US presidential elections are accompanied by a lot of superstitions, and if these have any role to play, George W. Bush has some reason to worry

AFP , WASHINGTON

Senator John Kerry declared a victory of sorts on Sunday in the US presidential election, staking his claim on a historical quirk linking past White House races and the Washington Redskins football team.

The National Football League's Redskins lost 28-14 to the Green Bay Packers at home on Sunday and, if tradition holds, this means President George W. Bush is bound to lose the White House.

The legend surrounding the Redskins' last home game before Election Day is simplicity itself: If they win, the White House incumbent will remain president. If they lose, the incumbent loses.

Going into this year's vote, the Redskins' electoral barometer has held true for 17 straight elections -- a record that professional pollsters can only dream of.

"I couldn't be more thrilled with the Packers win today," Kerry said in a statement titled "Packers Win -- Kerry's In!" released soon after the final whistle blew at Fedex Field outside Washington.

"This streak started with Herbert Hoover, and will continue this week when George Bush, the only president since Hoover to lose jobs, loses his," Kerry said. "When the Redskins get beat before the election, the incumbent loses. The Packers have done their part, this Tuesday, we'll do ours."

Kerry and the Packers have a bit of history already, although the candidate understandably did not bring that up on Sunday.

At a campaign rally in Wisconsin, home of the Packers, Kerry clumsily referred to the team's famed stadium as "Lambert Field" instead of Lambeau Field.

Kerry may not have reminded voters of his slip but the Bush campaign did.

"After today's victory, we're confident Packer fans across Wisconsin will be excited to go out and vote for the candidate who understands the `frozen tundra of Lambeau' is not a dessert item in an expensive French restaurant," spokesman Scott Stanzel said.

Omens that can supposedly predict the outcome of US elections are legion and stretch from sports playing fields to Wall Street and fashion house catwalks.

Since 1904, according to Jeffrey Hirsch, editor of the Stock Trader's Almanac, the incumbent has failed to win re-election if the Dow Jones index falls by 0.5 percent or more in October. Last month, the Dow fell 0.52 percent, pointing to a Kerry presidency.

Another piece of unconventional wisdom involves fashion styles, with rising hemlines indicating election victory for the Democratic candidate and a more modest, conservative skirt-length suggesting a Republican win.

But with low-slung jeans having replaced miniskirts as the new pioneer in pushing the frontiers of flesh-baring street wear, no discernible consensus has emerged on where hemlines are right now.

Connecticut-based Weekly Reader magazine, meanwhile, believes it has located the perfect sample group for predicting the ballot outcome, even if none of its members are old enough to vote.

The magazine's hundreds of thousands of school readers, ranging from first grade through 12th grade (aged six to 17), traditionally take part in a nationwide mock vote which, since 1956, has accurately chosen the actual White House winner.

This time around, more than 60 percent opted for Bush over Kerry, who only won one state, Maryland.

One of the more fanciful indicators takes its readings from the sales of candidate Halloween masks.

In 2000, a Wisconsin-based Internet costume company began tracking presidential candidate mask sales by five different manufacturers and asked 12 different chains to research their sales history.

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