Following the Halloween festivities of this past week, Halloween mask suppliers have been eager to give their insight on which candidate will win the upcoming Election.
Why, you might ask, is their input so important? Rumor has it that Halloween costume companies can predict the winner of the Presidential Election based on their mask sales; and they have yet to be wrong over the last few elections.
Spirit Halloween, the biggest Halloween vendor in the country, has been watching this trend for some time now, noting that their sales have properly forecasted the winner of each election. According to Fortune Magazine, “Bush outsold Kerry two to one in 2004, Gore sold 14 percent fewer masks in 2000, and Clinton masks won with 71 percent in 1996,” all representative of the election’s actual outcome.
“There were no Obama [masks] at all in any of the other stores,” said Sandra Barclay, the district manager in South Carolina for Spirit Halloween. “Obviously, it’s an election year and the fact that we sold so many presidential masks is not surprising at all. We expected to sell out of them.”
Buycostumes.com, the world’s largest costume provider online, also picked up on this year’s trend, and has a perfect record since 2000 of predicting the next President solely based on mask sales.
Listed on their website, BuyCostumes.com has announced that 55 percent of mask sales went to Obama, suggesting that the purchase of “one mask = one vote” in their system. Ironically enough, their sales were representative of current public opinion polls with Obama leading McCain roughly by the same percentages.
“People are very into the election,” said Teri McRory, an assistant manager at Spirit Halloween in Naples’ Coastland Center. “Obama went fast; he was the first to go.”
Many stores and websites stocked their inventory over the last few months, ordering tons of masks and apparel for Halloween night. They couldn’t believe how quickly the political costume fad was catching on though, as the National Retail Federation reported election-themed costumes as the number six costume idea for adults this year.
Ricky’s NYC shop, in particular, was ready for the potential rush for political Halloween costumes, assuming that many shoppers would wear their political views on their sleeve, or better yet, their whole body.
“We had a Barack Obama costume. We had a John McCain costume,” said Jason Sandlofer, the Director of Operations of Ricky’s NYC.
The shop even opted to make a last minute Joe the Plumber costume for political fans.
“It had a big jumpsuit, a bald cap, and four name tags: Joe the Plumber, Joe the Plumber Unlicensed, Joe the Plumber for McCain and Joe the Plumber for Obama,” Sandlofer said.
Out of all the political costumes available though nationwide, Sarah Palin dominated the charts as one of the top ten most popular Halloween costume’s of 2008. According to Yahoo Buzz, the search phrase “Sarah Palin Halloween costume” saw 72% more hits than “Obama costume.”
“Having a female on the ticket opens up the costumes possibilities in a way we don’t usually see,” said Jalem Getz, CEO of BuyCostumes.com to the New York Daily News. “This is certainly a record for us.”
As many Halloween providers concluded, gathering accessories for Sarah Palin costume was easy.
“And we had a great Sarah Palin costume we made ourselves with a sash that says Miss Alaska,” Sandlofer said. It had a wig. We had the glasses. We had the shotguns. You name it, we had it for her.”
As others noted; developing a Sarah Palin mask was much harder given the fact that she wasn’t very popular in the political scheme till August.
“She got announced a little bit late for the Halloween industry,” said Shanna Coley, the current owner of one Halloween store in Myrtle Beach.
According to other statistics compiled by yahoo, Palin masks were the most searched political masks this year, with Obama and McCain following closely behind. Sen. Joe Biden masks ranked eighth, trailing behind George W. Bush and barely surpassing Michelle Obama.
But as some Halloween providers have observed, the buying of these masks is not necessarily correlated to a customer’s political support for that individual. One manager at the Halloween Mega Store in Fort Meyers said that one of his customers purchased an Obama mask, along with an Ali Baba outfit. The customer’s goal, as he stated, was to create a “terrorist suit” to his surprise.
“Now, the thing is, what’s the motivation for buying these? Do you buy them because you think they’re scary?” said political science professor Paul Peterson of Coastal Carolina University in an interview with the Sun News. “You might have to look at this negatively; maybe this means the other candidate is likely to win.”
Only time will tell now if these rumors can be turned into reality once again and if the sales of political Halloween masks can really foreshadow the winner of today’s Election. If so, the Election may be a little spookier than we all thought.