EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

October 25, 2012

Masked men: Halloween sales mirror tight presidential race

Seasonal sales may reflect presidential outcome

By John Toole jtoole@eagletribune.com
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — The race between President Obama and Mitt Romney is too close to call – at the neighborhood Halloween costume store.

A third party – Big Bird – could prove a spoiler.

Unofficial totals from the sales counter show a tight race in New Hampshire at this point.

“We’d say it’s pretty equal,” said John O’Donnell, owner of Party Center-Halloween Happenings in Salem. “I think it’s like the polls.”

The count yesterday morning at Party Center stood six apiece for the Democrat and the Republican.

But in the Derry precinct, a familiar face thrust on the political stage in the closing weeks of the campaign appeared to pose a serious challenge to Obama and Romney.

“We’ve had more requests for Big Bird than Obama-Romney,” Costume Gallery owner Claire Renaud said.

A fringe candidacy also could be afoot.

A Costume Gallery customer requested wigs this week to dress as the Obama girls, Renaud said.

But did that mean Obama daughters Sasha and Malia or the YouTube sensation of 2008 campaign fame?

“Who knows?” Renaud said. “We don’t ask our customers too many questions.”

It could be that voters remain undecided.

Alec Tuttle of iParty in Plaistow said there hasn’t been too much demand yet for either Obama or Romney.

If the prospects of Obama and Romney appear uncertain in Plaistow, another old politician is in worse shape late in the campaign.

“There’s Richard Nixon,” Tuttle said. “I haven’t seen that one sell.”

BuyCostumes.com, which claims to have accurately predicted the presidential outcome since 2000, had New Hampshire in the tossup column yesterday, with a 50-50 split between Romney and Obama.

Nationwide BuyCostumes.com gave Obama a 272-245 advantage in the Electoral College, putting him over the top for re-election. That forecast map is vastly different from other models. A Romney victory in Massachusetts and an Obama win in Texas, as predicted by BuyCostumes, would stun pundits.

Besides New Hampshire, “swing states” in the company’s mask poll include Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska and Vermont.

It’s too soon to say whether that forecast will force Romney and Obama to rearrange their campaign schedules for more stops in Montpelier and Missoula.

Halloween Express, which operates stores in Salem and Plaistow, has made Obama and Romney selections among its top 10 masks for the 2012 trick-or-treat season on its website. Others include Spider-Man, Angry Birds and Jason from the “Friday the 13th” movies.

People are closely watching the mask sales.

Jay Leno, host of “The Tonight Show,” recently commented on Obama’s mask lead over Romney.

“Well, that makes sense. I mean, what’s scarier than four more years of this economy?” Leno asked.

Voters won’t need a special stimulus check from Uncle Sam to make a political statement this Halloween.

Obama and Romney masks are selling for about $25, meaning the purchase won’t greatly add to their personal debt or force them into austerity measures around the house.

For those wanting to keep a lid on spending, BuyCostume’s paper versions sell for 99 cents.