If you're too impatient to wait until Tuesday night and don't put much stock in either polls or pundits, here are five ways to know how things will shake out.
Would you like to know who is going to win the presidential election? Are you too impatient to wait eight to 12 hours?
A few weeks ago we brought you our poll of America's psychics. (Like Nate Silver, they pretty much think Obama is going to win.) But what do football teams, elementary-school children, and various inanimate objects have to say about the election outcome?
Like Punxsutawney Phil crawling out of his comfortable underground lair into the harsh February sun, we offer up this review of election outcome prognostications.
1. The Washington Redskins
Which football team has the greatest special psychic election powers in the land? The Washington Redskins, of course. Since 1940, the result of the game the 'Skins play on the Sunday before Election Day has correctly predicted the outcome of the presidential election all but one time: When the Redskins win, the party that won the popular vote in the previous election wins the Electoral College. When the Redskins lose, the party that won the popular vote in the last election loses. RGIII and his crew improbably lost to the Panthers on Sunday. Democrats won the popular vote in 2008.
But wait! The Redskins Rule did not work in 2004, when George W. Bush won the electoral college despite not having won the popular vote in 2000. If it fails to work again this year, could the team lose its credibility as a predictor of who will be president? There is so much at stake in this election.
The Redskins may have the longest-running football-predicting record, but there are some college teams backing Obama up. Since 1984, the result of the Alabama-LSU game in an election year has predicted the outcome of the presidential race; since '88, the FSU-Miami game predicts the outcome of beloved swing state Florida. An Alabama or FSU win means a Democrat win. Both those games went for Obama this year.
Advantage: Romney, with mitigating factors
2. A Cookie Bakeoff
Family Circle took Ann Romney and Michelle Obama head-to-head this June in a cookie recipe showdown. The magazine endorses the bake-off as an election predictor, noting that "since 1992, when Hillary Clinton and Barbara Bush bumped spatulas ... all but one winner went on to live in the White House." The only exception? Four years ago, when Cindy McCain won. (That outcome is somewhat tainted by the accusation that McCain sordidly copied her recipe from the back of a Hershey's box.)
Results of the voting, released October 2, gave the contest to the first lady. But the Huffington Post notes that the race was close: "Mama Kaye's White and Dark Chocolate Cookies" beat "Ann Romney's M&M Cookies" by just 287 votes out of 4,844 cast.
3. Dixville Notch, New Hampshire
In keeping with the treasured American value of having only a handful of states be important in the presidential election, two very tiny towns in swing-state New Hampshire vote early in the election -- they cast and tally their ballots beginning at the stroke of midnight on November 6. Little Hart's Location had just 33 voters this year, while even littler and famouser Dixville Notch had 10.
Dixville Notch went 5-5 this year, ugh. Luckily, it is not that strong a predictor of how the election is going to go. It voted with the Electoral College in the last three elections, but in total it's only correctly indicated seven of the last 13. (Meanwhile, Obama "clobbered" Romney in Hart's Location, 23-9, plus one for Libertarian Gary Johnson).
4. Young Children
Various elementary, middle, and high schools claim to have near-perfect records in predicting the outcome of the presidential election with their student mock voting. Early reports out of the schools seem to have Obama walloping Romney in many locations. On Ramstein Air Base in Germany, for instance, Ramstein Elementary went by over 24 points to the sitting president -- this despite Romney's "'good eyelashes' and nice hair 'that looks like it had gel in it.'"
Meanwhile, Scholastic Magazine's super-poll of 250,000 kids gave Obama the lead, with a comfortable if less dramatic six-point margin. Scholastic claims its poll has accurately predicted the outcome of the election in 15 out of the last 17 races.
5. Halloween Masks
Spirit Halloween, the largest Halloween retailer in the country, has been following sales of Halloween masks of the presidential candidates since 1996. They called this one for Obama weeks ago. As of October 31, the president was up, 60 percent to 40. The candidate whose mask has been more popular has won each of the four elections where Spirit has tracked sales. That means mask sales are a 100 percent accurate predictor of who's going to be president! Which I think means the margin of error is zero percent. Good hustle, everyone.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.