Crystal Ball


Strangest Presidential Election Predictors: 7-Eleven Coffee Cups & More

Forget Gallup—what if the color of your coffee cup could determine November’s victor? The tastiest cookies? The World Series winner? A look at the most bizarre metrics used to portend the winner of the presidential election.

Gallup, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, NBC News … 7-Eleven? The vaunted news outlets and polling agencies are typically pundits’ first stops for election forecasting. But maybe they should look no further than their corner convenience store.

With its “7-Election” coffee campaign, 7-Eleven has correctly predicted the results of the last three presidential elections and is already calling the 2012 race for President Obama. How does your cup of morning joe rank among the oddest presidential-election predictors? Here’s a look.

7-Eleven Coffee

Milk or sugar? Red or blue? 7-Eleven’s “7-Election” campaign lets customers pick red or blue to-go cups for their morning coffee, a choice meant to serve as a political endorsement for Mitt Romney or Barack Obama. The convenience store chain keeps track of the cup count, and reports so far that Obama is ahead, with 60 percent of customers opting for java in a blue cup. Silly as it sounds, these results may worry Romney: the promotion has correctly predicted the past three election results. “While we have never billed 7-Election as scientific or statistically valid, it is astounding just how accurate this simple count-the-cups poll has been—election after election,” said CEO Joe DePinto.

7-Eleven Election Predictor 2012
Courtesy of

Family Circle Recipe Contest

Could the election be decided by bake-off? Four of the last five presidential election winners also have been the husband of the victor of Family Circle magazine’s First Lady Cookie Bake-Off. The contest has the Democratic and Republican candidates’ wives submit their best cookie recipes and asks readers to make them and vote on their favorites. This year, Michelle Obama’s dark chocolate chip cookies edged out Ann Romney’s M&M cookies by just three percentage points. So come Nov. 6, don’t be surprised to find Barack Obama lounging in the Oval Office, dunking celebration cookies in his presidential blue 7-Eleven coffee cup.

Halloween Mask Sales

Scary news for Mitt Romney? The election falls less than a week after Halloween, and fright-night retailer Spirit Halloween claims that the proximity on the calendar of the major dates makes its metric for predicting the presidential election one of the most reliable: mask sales. Like a portending witches’ brew, the past four presidential elections have been foretold by sales figures of masks modeled after that year’s opposing candidates. So far, Obama is leading Romney with 64 percent of candidate mask sales.

Emmanuel Dunand / AFP-Getty Images

Washington Redskins Home-Field Record

Finally, the Washington Redskins have a winning record. The “Redskins Rule,” as it’s been dubbed, states that if Washington’s NFL team wins its last home game before the election, then the incumbent party will win the presidential election. It’s a stellar track record, too—undefeated, in fact, from 1940 to 2004, when it wrongly predicted John Kerry would win. The rule redeemed itself by foreshadowing an Obama victory in ’08, meaning pundits should pay close attention when the Redskins face off against the Carolina Panthers Nov. 4 in Washington.

Al Messerschmidt / Getty Images

World Series Winner

Not a football fan? Baseball also has been known to decide the presidential election. From 1952 to 1976, the theory that if an American League team won the most recent World Series the Republican candidate would win the presidency was batting a perfect average. There was a wonky stretch of four wrong predictions in five cycles between 1980 and 1996, but the past three elections have abided by the playbook. In all, 11 of the past 15 elections were correctly predicted by the winner of the World Series.

Rob Carr / Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers’ Post-Season Record

Still not sold on a sports predictor? How about swapping the Redskins Rule for the Lakers Law? Eight of the nine times the Los Angeles Lakers have played in the NBA championship—even if they didn’t ultimately win the whole shebang—the Republican candidate won the presidential election. (The first time the law was broken: in 2008 when the Lakers played in the finals but Obama won the presidency.) The Lakers missed out on this year’s final dance, meaning Obama may be waltzing into the Oval Office yet again.

Candidates’ Heights

This may make Obama feel, well, small. History shows that in 80 percent of presidential elections, the candidate who is taller wins. So, real quick, Barack and Mitt—stand back to back! It turns out Romney is taller than Obama, which, according to this theory, gives the former governor a leg up in November.

Number of Letters in Their Last Names

More is better? Romney may hope so. In 15 of the last 23 elections, about a two-thirds success rate, the presidential candidate with the longer last name has won. Forget the Electoral College. By this metric, Romney beats Obama six to five.