intro: The latest polls may show the presidential race deadlocked between President Obama and Mitt Romney, but why trust carefully calculated public opinion when there is a plethora of other possible ways to predict this year's election result?
If polls and policies aren't your style here are a few other shockingly successful but largely unscientific methods of predicting the outcome of the 2012 presidential election:
quicklist:1 title: Halloween Mask Sales Text: Prediction: Obama
Winning Streak: 4 for 4
Beyond the fake-blood splattered zombies and the painfully adorable little ladybugs, which Halloween costumes clutter the streets this October could determine far more than the kids' candy haul.
Both BuyCostumes.com and Spirit Halloween Store claim the number of Mitt Romney or Barack Obama masks sold this year will predict which man wins the election this November. BuyCostumes mask sales have correctly predicted the victor in the past three elections, while Spirit's mask sales have been right in the past four.
So far this year, Obama is winning on both sites. Obama mask sales have outpaced those of Romney masks by a 30 percentage-point margin on BuyCostumes. At Spirit, Obama is outselling Romney 69 percent to 31 percent.
quicklist: 2 title: Redskins Victory Text: Prediction: ??
Winning Streak: 17 for 18
Since 1936, presidential election predictors have looked to the NFL to find out if the incumbent president will keep his job. The myth is that if the Washington Redskins win their last home game before the election, the incumbent party stays in power. If the Redskins lose, the challenging party takes the White House.
The Redskins game has correctly predicted 17 of the last 18 presidential elections. They were wrong in 2004, when the 'Skins lost to the Green Bay Packers, but incumbent President George W. Bush held onto the White House, beating Democratic rival John Kerry the week after the game.
This year, the Redskins will face the Carolina Panthers at home on Nov. 4, the Sunday before the election.
quicklist: 3 title: Complex Political Science Model text: Prediction: Romney
Winning Streak: 8 for 8
Quirky calculus aside, when you boil down the economic numbers, two University of Colorado professors are confident Romney will take the electoral cake this November.
Using a complex political science model based largely on state and national unemployment rates and changes in per capita income, the pair was able to retroactively predict the correct election result in each of the past eight elections. Their model shows that this year Obama will win 213 electoral votes, significantly shy of the 270 needed to win the election.
"Certainly, most of the polling data projects Obama is likely to win, but we don't account for any polling or public opinion," said Michael Berry, a political science professor at UC Denver. "I would still bet that Romney wins."
quicklist: 4 title: Online Gamblers text: Prediction: Obama
Winning Streak: 2 for 2
Thousands of prognosticators are putting their money where their mouth is, betting thousands on who they think will win the presidential race. At Intrade, an online political betting site, gamblers have correctly predicted the past two elections. Betting for U.S. presidential elections began on the Ireland-based site in 2004.
And as of Friday, betters have their money on Obama. The likelihood that the president will win re-election has climbed above 70 percent over the past week. Romney's odds plunged from about 42 percent at the beginning of September to 30 percent this week.
quicklist: 5 title: The Stars text: Prediction: Obama
Winning Streak: 1 for 1
Forget unemployment rates and voter turnout demographics and the gaffe-o-meter, perhaps the outcome of the 2012 election is already written in the stars. According to a panel of the nation's top astrologists, the planets and constellations spell a win for Obama this year.
Chicago astrologist Nina Gryphon, one of the five panelists who unanimously predicted an Obama victory, said that while each astrologist uses a different method, she is 95 percent certain the president will win based on when the sun will move into the sign of Aries.
"I looked back at charts going back to 1880 and asked, 'What does look like when we get a change of control,'" Gryphon said. "This year, it looked very much like nothing is going to change."
quicklist: 6 title: 7-Eleven Coffee Drinkers text: Prediction: Obama
Winning streak: 3 for 3
Leave it to coffee drinkers to pick the president. That's what 7-Eleven has successfully done for the past three elections. The convenience store kicked off its fourth 7-Election this month, letting customers "vote" for a candidate by picking either a blue Obama coffee cup or a red Romney coffee cup.
Obama was ahead in mid-September in what the store admitted is an "unabashedly unofficial and unscientific" poll. Sales of Obama cups were outpacing sales of Romney cups 58 percent to 42 percent.
The store also offers regular "nonpartisan" cups for customers who are undecided or would rather not flaunt their political preference.
Customers can vote for free on Sept. 28, when 7-Eleven is offering free coffee from 6 a.m. until 10 a.m. to celebrate National Coffee Day.
quicklist: 7 title: Elementary School Kids text: Prediction: Obama
Winning Streak: 16 for 18
They may not know what the Electoral College is, but America's kids are extremely good at predicting who will win it.
For every election since 1940, Scholastic classroom magazines has let U.S. schoolchildren vote for president either online or on paper in their classrooms. The kids have picked the winning man in 16 of the past 18 elections.
One exception occurred in 1948, when Republican Thomas Dewey won the Scholastic poll but Democrat Harry S. Truman won the presidency. Another occurred in 1960, when the kids picked Richard Nixon over John F. Kennedy, who won the White House.
This year, President Obama won in a landslide with 57 percent of the vote while Mitt Romney had 39 percent. Scholastic reports nearly 250,000 school children voted.
quicklist: 8 title: LA Lakers Championship Game text: Prediction: Not a factor.
Winning Streak: 8 for 9
Mitt Romney's prospects might have seemed like a slam dunk if the Los Angeles Lakers had made it to the NBA championship game -- rather than the Miami Heat, which defeated the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Since 1952, if the Lakers made it to that final game of the season in an election year, regardless of whether they won or lost, Republicans won the White House.
Republican presidential candidate John McCain broke the Lakers' prediction streak for the first time in the last election. While the Lakers played the Boston Celtics for the 2008 NBA title, McCain fell to Obama in the presidential election. For the record, the Lakers lost, too.
quicklist: 9 title: World Series Winner text: Prediction: ??
Winning Streak: 16 of 23 -- but correct last three elections.
Which league wins the World Series has long been seen as an indicator of which party makes it to the White House -- though the record suggests baseball is not be a perfect predictor of a presidential election outcome. The myth has an imperfect record, correctly predicting 16 elections since 1920 and getting it wrong seven times.
Legend has it that if an American League baseball team wins the World Series, a Republican will win the White House. If a National League team wins, Democrats will take the top spot.
In 2004, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., the Democratic presidential candidate, dismissed the myth and rooted for the Boston Red Sox, with his campaign claiming it was "a new century" and a "fresh start."
The Red Sox won but, true to legend, Kerry lost.
Will President Obama, the former senator from Illinois, make the same mistake? He has predicted his hometown Chicago White Sox, vying to make the playoffs in the American League, would take the trophy this year. But if the American Leaguers win, legend has it Obama, the Democrat, will lose.