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Redskins, cookies and Guam: How did the "bellwethers" do?

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY, UPI.com   |   Nov. 7, 2012 at 4:01 PM  |  Updated Nov. 8, 2012 at 1:22 PM   |   Comments

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Nov. 7 (UPI) -- We're a superstitious bunch, looking for omens in sports, weather and more sports. Presidential elections are the subject of some of the fiercest portending.

Now that the results are in, and President Obama has cruised his way to reelection, we check in on some of the big ones to see how they held up.

1, 2.Sports: Redskins Rule, Lakers Law

The result of the final Washington Redskins home football game ahead of the election has correlated with the incumbent party winning or losing election in an unbroken string since 1940.

"Skins" victories and losses have matched up with the past 18 presidential popular vote results (in 2004, President George W. Bush was treated as the previous loser, having been beaten in the popular vote by Al Gore in 2000, and the rule was considered upheld when the Redskins lost and he won reelection).

On Nov. 4, the Redskins were defeated by the Carolina Panthers, 21-13, predicting a loss for President Obama, disproving the rule for the first time in more than 70 years.

Rule result: Not upheld

The Los Angeles Lakers have a habit of making it into the NBA championship in election years, bringing victory to the Republican nominee in each case, regardless of the Lakers' success in the final.

The Lakers made eight trips to the Finals in election years: 1952 (Eisenhower), 1968 (Nixon), 1972 (Ford), 1980 (Reagan), 1984 (Reagan), 1988 (Bush Sr.), 2000 (Bush Jr.) and 2004 (Bush Jr.).

Earlier this year, the Miami Heat faced off against the Oklahoma City Thunder--meaning the Lakers would miss a Finals appearance and predict a Democratic victory in November

Rule result: Upheld

3, 4, 5, 6. States

Several states have been considered electoral bellwethers, none more so than the fiercely contested Ohio.

The Buckeye state has correctly voted with the eventual victor in every presidential election since 1960, and in all but two elections since 1896. It holds the longest current bellwether streak.

Ohio went for President Obama 50.1 percent to 48.2 percent in Tuesday night's election, predicting a victory for the incumbent.

Rule result: Upheld

The island territory of Guam gets to cast votes in a presidential, non-binding staw poll in the election since 1984, and successfully voted with the eventually winner each time.

On Tuesday, Guam residents picked Obama, 72 percent to 26 percent, predicting a victory for the president.

Rule result: Upheld

For the past 30 years, Iowa's popular vote margin has been within 2.55 percentage points of the eventual popular vote total, making it the state most reflective of the national vote.

On Tuesday, President Obama won Iowa 52.1 percent to 46.5 percent, or a margin of 5.6 percent. As of Wednesday (with some votes still being tallied and weeks before a final result will be verified), has Obama with 50.4 percent of the vote and Romney with 48.1, or a margin of 2.3 percent.

The difference between Iowa's margin and the nation's is currently 3.3 points.

Rule result: Likely not upheld

Nevada has also loves to pick a winner, choosing the eventual victor each election since 1912, except in 1976. In Tuesday's election, Nevada went for Obama by 52.3 percent over Romney's 45.7 percent, predicting a win for the president.

Rule result: Upheld

7. First lady cookie contest

The Family Circle magazine First Lady Presidential Cookie Bakeoff has been a campaign hallmark since Hillary Clinton's first runaround as a candidate's wife in 1992. In the contest, potential presidential spouses have offered up a favorite cookie recipe, and the judged winner's husband has gone on to become president.

The one exception--Cindy McCain's oatmeal butterscotch cookies won in 2008. Perhaps that's because she wasn't just going head-to-head with Michelle Obama (and her shortbread recipe), but also former President Bill Clinton, who submitted oatmeal cookies as the only husband to ever participate in the bake-off.

Here at UPI.com, we got in on the fun of this one, testing out the recipes and taking a blind straw poll, of which Michelle Obama's white and dark (and mint!) chocolate chip cookies soundly defeated Ann Romney's oatmeal M&M cookies nearly two-to-one.

The official contest results also found a winner in Mrs. Obama's cookies--beating Mrs. Romney's by just 287 out of 9,000 votes, and predicting a win for Mr. Obama

Rule result: Upheld

8. Halloween masks

On the creepy side of things, sales of Halloween masks of the candidates' faces have been a perfect prognosticator of the presidential outcome since 1980, when more people bought Ronald Reagan masks than donned Jimmy Carter's mug. Buycostumes.com and Spirit both keep track of sales.

The president's face outsold the challenger's again this year, predicting an easy reelection for him.

Rule result: Upheld

9. Kids

Scholastic, the educational publisher, has been conducting a kids' poll ahead of the elections since 1940 campaign--and wouldn't you know it? The kids get it right. In all but two elections since, children under 18 have correctly picked the eventual winner--picking Dewey over Truman (they weren't the only ones!) and Nixon over Kennedy.

In 2012's poll, President Obama ran away with 51 percent of the vote, compared to Mitt Romney's 45 percent, after more than a quarter of million kids weighed in, predicting his reelection.

Rule result: Upheld

Kid's network Nickelodeon holds their own Kids Pick the President, and in all but one election since they first held a vote in 1988, the kids did indeed pick the president. Except for 2004, when thousands of children chose John Kerry over George W. Bush, Nickelodeon's poll choice has gone on to occupy the White House.

Kids chose President Obama by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent over Mitt Romney, suggesting Obama would get to play fetch with Bo on the South Lawn for another four years.

Rule result: Upheld

Follow @gabbilevy and @UPI on Twitter.
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President Barack Obama (C), First Lady Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill celebrate their victory over Republican challenger Mitt Romney during their election night rally in Chicago on November 6, 2012. UPI/Kevin DietschPresident Barack Obama smiles after giving his victory speech at his election night event in Chicago on November 6, 2012. President Obama won re-election over Republican candidate Mitt Romney. UPI/Brian Kersey
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