Saturday, November 5, 2016

Chicken Entrails, Anyone?

It is that time again.  Time for everyone to consult their favorite aruspex to perform a little haruspicy so we can determine what’s going to happen this coming Tuesday. 

For the non-pagans among you, this means it is time to take the entrails of sacrificial animals to your local holy man so he can predict the results of the next election.  The exact animal depends on where you are located.  The Romans used chickens or sheep, the Azande of Africa used chicken eggs, the Chinese used tortoises, and so forth.  For some strange reason, the specific organ of choice for many cultures was the liver, perhaps—if my children are any judge—because so few liked the taste. 

This sort of black magic is still being done today, but we call it “focus groups” or “voter polling”.   Today’s methods are far more accurate, except, of course, when they aren't.

The myriad ways of interpreting and reinterpreting these polls to produce a desired result are fascinating.  Evidently, politicians spend a small fortune hiring a pollster to produce a poll that no one, certainly not the politicians, believe any more than a pile of raw chicken livers.

The Bradley Effect is brought out every election as a way of “reinterpreting” a poll.  In 1982, Tom Bradley, an African-American, was running for reelection as mayor of Los Angeles and the polls predicted that he would win by a large margin.  But, when Bradley narrowly lost the election, the discrepancy was blamed on voters who had told pollsters they would vote for the minority candidate because of "white guilt". 

The Bradley Effect does exist: in England it is called "The Shy Tory Factor" and in Canada it is known by the name, "Flora MacDonald Effect".  Jesse Helms, the five-term senator from North Carolina (despite his outrageous racist background), used to brag that he had “never won a poll or lost an election.”  But, this voting canard has been over-used by every candidate who came up short in a poll.  

There are other ways to “adjust” a poll.  Were enough cell phones called to cancel the effect of traditional “landlines” being owned disproportionately by older Americans?  Are you polling everyone in the community or only likely voters?  Are your polls a rolling average over several weeks or are they a “snapshot” of just today?  The number of ways to adjust, manipulate, or factor a poll are endless.  Advanced degrees are given in the subject, allowing the recipient to become gainfully employed producing inaccurate polls.

These polling uncertainties are why there are other historically reliable methods of predicting elections that are used in every election.

Psychics are used (and not just by Nancy Reagan).  The most famous presidential election psychic is Sylvia Browne, who has a perfect record.  Yes, absolutely perfect.  By this, I mean she has never been correct one single time, about anything.  Being wrong every single time is as far outside statistical probability, and is just as impressive, at least in scientific terms, as being always correct.  All you had to do was reverse her prediction and you could foretell any election!

Unfortunately, Browne died in 2013, but since she believed in channeling, ghost writing, and communicating with the dead, I see no particular reason why we cannot use her to predict this election, anyway.  Just concentrate hard and let Sylvia communicate with you from beyond this astral plane…  After all, the worst you can do is improve her record.

Football allegedly can predict the next president.  If the Washington Redskins win the last home game before the election, the party in power usually retains the White House.  If they lose, there should be a party change in government leadership.  (Hey, I just write this shit, I didn’t make this up.)  As strange as it seems, they have been an accurate predictor of the presidential election for 16 out of the last 18 elections: an accuracy rate of 89%.  Since the Redskins beat the Eagles a couple of weeks ago, Hillary should win.

Unless you believe in the Height prediction method, which says the taller of the two presidential candidates should win.  In 67% of all presidential elections, the taller candidate won.  You remember when 6’2” Mitt Romney defeated 6’1” Barack Obama, right?  If the height rule works, Trump should win.

A Trump victory is supported by the Halloween Costume rule.  For the last 40 years, the sales of Halloween masks have accurately predicted the next winning candidate.  If this rule is accurate, not only will Trump become the next President of the United States, but the billionaire will also be elected in half of Europe and Mexico. (Maybe that is how he will get Mexico to pay for that wall!)

The Cookie Recipe Rule may not be valid this year. Since 1992, Family Circle magazine has convinced the wives of candidates to submit cookie recipes.  The readers vote for the best recipe, the winner has accurately predicted the future occupant of the White House every year except 2008, when Ann Romney’s M&M cookies edged out Michelle Obama’s politically correct recipe for a White and Dark Chocolate Chip Cookie.  

This rule may not work this year, since Bill Clinton cheated by submitting a slightly reworked version of Hillary’s winning 1992 recipe.  While Bill won the contest, the results are being investigated by a House of Representatives Committee with a multi-million dollar budget.  Results are not expected in our lifetime.

Alternately, we could just listen to kids.  The Scholastic News has collected the votes of students since 1940, with an 88% accuracy rate.  The kids missed only twice: when they predicted Dewey would defeat Truman in 1948, and that Nixon would defeat Kennedy in 1960.  (And they might have been correct about last one.)  While the students predict Hillary wins this year, the results are a little unusual, with several states reversing long-held traditional voting patterns.  (The error probably is a result of Scholastic News only counting votes from students who can read.)

The most interesting method has to be the 7-11 Coffee Cup poll.  For the last four elections, the convenience store chain has offered disposable coffee cups for both political parties, with the cup used most being a surprisingly accurate predictor of the eventual winner.  This year, for the first time, 7-11 offered three cups:  Hillary, Trump, and a cup marked “Speak Up”.

I doubt that anyone will find it surprising to learn that the “Speak Up” cup is ahead by double digits.  This confirms my long-held opinion that anyone can win any election if they will just legally change their name to “None of the Above”.


  1. It's too bad Sylvia Browne has passed on, as she has robbed the religious faithful of their God-given right to deal with her as scriptures dictate. Which is to say, whenever a self proclaimed prophet says a thing that doesn't come to pass, the prophet is to be stoned (presumably in a manner not consistent with Colorado's favourite pastime.)

    There is the grumpy Canadian vote prediction methodology. I have predicted from the start (I.e, when it was starting to look like Trump was actually being taken seriously) that the GOP would lose the election. The chicken entrails and my occasional gout-ridden throbbing big toe all support this.

  2. I have a prediction that I am confident is 100% accurate. I call it the loser pred-election. I tend to vote for the loser. In the past six elections I have voted for the winner only 16% of the time. It would have been 33%, but I had just moved in one instance and didn't change my voter registration in time so I couldn't vote. I mean I could have but my official precinct was 300 miles from where I was living or, as we would say in Texas during the Carter 55 mph speed limit stupidity. "just under six hours away.

    I considered voting for Clinton this time just to jinx her, but then one of my friends convinced me that a vote for Trump was a vote for Clinton, so by that logic, a vote for Clinton was a vote for Trump and being #NeverTrump, I didn't want to do that either. Can you imagine what sorts of "entertainment" a strip club owner like Trump would bring into the White House. The ghost of Dolly Madison would flee the family quarters in abject horror. The thought of Dolly's shade wandering the Rayburn Building, homeless and sad is just too much guilt to bear. So I voted for Evan McMullin, partly because I agree with him on most stuff and partly to hack off my bigoted Christian buddies who think it's a sin to vote for a Mormon.

    I can, however, confidently predict the losers in this election. They are:

    1. All third party candidates
    2. The American people

    Scripture talks about the last trump sounding just before the second coming. You have to wonder if Saints Paul and John weren't offering up a surprisingly specific prophecy about the end of the world. Still, whether the prophecy is symbolic or specific, and though I look forward to the second coming, I won't vote for it. Just in case everybody that wants on board the Jesus Train hasn't stepped off the platform yet. Just sayin' - Tom