The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Match for Kerry, masks for Bush

Washington, Nov. 1: John Kerry will be the next President of the US, if American political lore is of any help in this confusing presidential election on the eve of polling.

Many Americans were put out of the suffering of uncertainty about Tuesday's election result when Washington Redskins, an American football team, lost a game here yesterday to the Green Bay Packers of Wisconsin.

In every US presidential poll since 1936, the incumbent in the White House has lost the election whenever the Redskins have lost the final football game before polling on their home ground.

Yesterday's was one such game and the result was eagerly awaited all over America. The lore is so widely believed that Kerry, the Democratic presidential candidate, told reporters on his campaign plane as soon as the game was over: 'I think it is a good tradition to follow. I think the country should stay with tradition, don't you'

A written statement by Kerry later added: 'The Packers have done their part. This Tuesday I'll do mine.'

The Bush campaign, which would have been thrilled no end had the game gone in favour of the Redskins, dismissed the idea that yesterday's outcome was a good omen for Kerry.

But the pique in the Bush camp was obvious in a statement by Republican spokesperson Scott Stanzel.

'After today's victory, we are confident Packer fans across Wisconsin will be excited to go out and vote for the candidate who understands the 'frozen tundra of Lambeau' is not a dessert item in an expensive French restaurant,' Stanzel said.

It was a dig at Kerry, who recently mistakenly referred to the home stadium of the Packers as 'Lambert Field'. It is known as 'Lambeau Field', so called after the man who founded the team ' 'the frozen tundra'.

Another political superstition favouring Kerry is the victory of his home team, the Boston Red Sox, in the American League baseball series a few days ago.

The Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals have each won two World Series in election years since 1912. In all four instances, a Democrat was elected President.

There are less celebrated Oval Office superstitions favouring President George W. Bush, too.

In the run-up to Halloween celebrations yesterday on the eve of All Saints' Day, Bush Halloween masks outsold Kerry masks 55 per cent to 45 per cent, according to estimates. The consequence, according to popular belief, is a Bush win.

Similarly, in all but one of the last 13 presidential elections, a particular vote taken among school children nationwide has predicted the winning candidate.

This year, Bush beat Kerry 52 to 47 per cent in that poll. Because the predictions are conflicting, but since the more popular superstitions are favouring Kerry, one interpretation is that Bush may win the popular vote, but lose the White House to Kerry: the reverse of what happened to him and Democrat Al Gore in 2000.

While superstitions may have settled Tuesday's poll result for many Americans, Bush and Kerry are leaving nothing to chance.

On the last day of campaigning, Bush is making seven stops today spread across six states that are still too close in the race. He will wind up tonight in his home state of Texas.

Kerry is visiting three states today before arriving in his home state of Massachusetts, where he will await the results.

Both candidates have been addressing so many rallies that Kerry is starting to cough from an obvious sore throat while Bush is beginning to be hoarse despite steadily eating lozenges and eliminating caffeine.

Former President Bill Clinton yesterday returned to Arkansas, the home state he governed for 12 years in an eleventh-hour effort to boost Kerry's expectations there.

Arkansas was firmly on Bush's side until a fortnight ago when polls found Kerry rapidly catching up. 'You can still win here,' Clinton said yesterday. 'It depends on which side gets the vote out better.'

Clearly exploiting last week's Osama bin Laden video, vice-president Dick Cheney made a final bid to scare voters into choosing Bush.

He told a rally in Hawaii today: 'We are standing just a few miles from Pearl Harbor, the site of a sudden attack...Three years ago, America faced another sudden attack.

'The clearest, most important difference in this campaign is simple to state: President Bush understands the war on terror and has a strategy for winning it. John Kerry does not.'

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