Can Halloween Mask Sales Predict the Next President?

It would appear that imitation is indeed the greatest form of flattery, especially when it comes to Halloween costume sales in an election year.

According to this article in the San Francisco Chronicle, sales of Halloween masks often mirror the popularity candidates enjoy with the public and hint at the ultimate winner of presidential elections. Spirit Halloween, one of the largest costume retailers in the U.S., says that the Obama mask is leading with 64% of the retailer’s nationwide mask sales.

Spirit Halloween’s “Presidential Index” based on mask sales has accurately predicted election winners since way back in the glory days of 1996. Nothing about this survey is scientific, of course, but PR experts know that our business has as much to do with timing and circumstance as psychology and hard science.

PR professionals are trained to extrapolate meaning and patterns from even the quirkiest of correlations and relationships. This type of data is our Mars Rover, and seeing human behavior in a new and revealing way for the first time is our ancient Martian streambed. In other words, this is PR geek stuff.

Masks have been around for centuries, and there isn’t a respectable large-scale museum in the world that doesn’t have some masks in it somewhere: the ancient Aztec exhibit, the African heritage wing, the golden Egyptian death mask case–the list goes on indefinitely.

Don’t let Halloween fool you. Despite the free M&Ms and squashed pumpkins, Halloween masks are a barometer for the current state—pop, political, financial or other—of our nation’s culture. With October arriving on Monday and the election rapidly approaching, images of Obama and Romney are everywhere–and the public is reacting.

Political affiliations aside, we all only have one moment to vote. But Halloween night allows us to be the people we vote for, and many Americans will soon exercise their freedom to do so. What does this say about the American public and its relationship with politicians? Only that we want to be part of our political system and represent the people who represent us.

And that’s much healthier than wanting to be a Kardashian.