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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 10:53 GMT 11:53 UK
10 unusual ways to pick a president
Never mind opinion polls and focus groups. Magazine readers provide the inside track on who's going to be a US presidential winner.

Campaign trail
Campaigners are looking for a sign for who will win

Last week, we put forward the "short name theory" of US elections - which suggested that having a simple, short name was an advantage. (

, 13 October.)

But readers have sent their own ways to identify the winner - ranging from the tallest candidate to a persuasive argument that it is decided by the best haircut.

SPORTS RESULTS THEORIES

1. Every time the USA men's basketball team has gone to the summer Olympics and not brought home a gold medal, it has been bad news for incumbent Republican presidents. And now in 2004 we finish with the bronze again. This is a bad omen for George W Bush.
Jonathan Wood, Atlanta, Georgia, US
Forecast: Kerry goes for gold.

2. It's pretty well-established that the best way to predict the results of the national election is to watch football (the American kind). Particularly, watch the Washington Redskins' last home game before election day. If the Redskins win, the incumbent wins. If the Redskins lose, the incumbent loses.
James, Washington DC, USA
Forecast: Still to be declared.

IT'S ALL IN THE NAME

3. Names at the beginning of the alphabet seem successful too - Bush, Blair, Berlusconi and Chirac would all appear close to the top of the ballot paper
David Walker, Sittingbourne, England

4. Another interesting concept is that a surname starting with a lower alphabetic order than average is a contributory factor to success. The G7 leaders, for instance, have an average of 7.42 (between G and H), about six letters before the middle of the alphabet.
S. Noirot, London
Forecast: Bush stays in front.

5. Since 1820, none of the 11 presidents whose first names began with a G or J-sound have been re-elected. Since 1932, all seven presidents whose names did not begin with a G-sound have been re-elected. The 11 one-term presidencies: John, John, James, James, James, Grover, Grover, John, Gerald, Jimmy, George. The 7 multi-term presidencies: Franklin, Harry, Dwight, Lyndon, Richard, Ronald, Bill.
Anthony Glazebrook, Bristol, England
Forecast: Not good for George.

WOULD YOU BUY THEM A DRINK?

6. I think that most Americans just vote for whoever they think would make the best drinking buddy. People in California chose a governor because they liked his movies. In Massachusetts, they picked the governor because he was a man... and in the last presidential election, they chose George Bush because Al Gore was too boring.
Sara, US
Forecast: It's your round.

HEY, GOOD LOOKING

7. What do all of these television era election results have in common?

Kennedy wins, Nixon loses; Carter wins, Ford loses; Reagan wins, Carter loses; Bush wins, Dukakis loses; Clinton wins, Bush Senior loses; Clinton wins, Dole loses; Gore wins (by popular vote), Bush Junior loses.

With the exception of Nixon's win over McGovern in 1972 (there were no televised debates that election) all winning candidates were better looking.
Keith Andrews (that's three syllables), Chicago, US
Forecast: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

HIGH OFFICE

8. This one's brilliant: in every election since the introduction of the televised debates, the taller candidate has won. (Although 5'11" George Bush had to get the Supreme Court to give him the win over 6'1" Al Gore in 2000.)
Toby, St Albans
Forecast: Kerry inches ahead.

KEY STATES

9. Just watch what Tennessee does ... they've voted with the winner in the last 10 presidential elections.
Jess, New York City
Forecast: Still to be declared.

HAIR TO THE CHIEF

10. Hair seems to be an infallible predictor of electoral victory in US elections.

In the 55 electoral races from 1789 to 2000, the candidate with the most hair was elected president. George Washington had a marginally richer coiffure than John Adams, Thomas Jefferson's full set of hair made Aaron Burr's head look particularly bare.

James Monroe beat bald Quincy Adams, who made a comeback by growing out sideburns and beating Andrew Jackson in the election that followed. If both candidates had a full set of hair, as was the case in 1864 between Abraham Lincoln and George B. McClellan, facial hair also factored in the equation.

Abraham Lincoln came out victorious, flaunting a beard that overpowered McClellan's thick moustache.

There is also of course the case of Dwight Eisenhower, who was bald, but still made president. That was only because he was running against Adlai E. Stevenson who was, believe it or not, even balder.

And the list goes on: Kennedy had a sexier hair-do than Nixon, Jimmy Carter made Ford look bald, Bob Dole's receding hairline could not match Bill Clinton's bushy hair-do.

George W Bush however, made it against all hirsute odds, and beat Al Gore, despite the latter's hair-power. But that's not really an outlier case since Gore after all got more votes, even though he lost the election.

The hair-tally between Bush versus Kerry? Kerry of course - but possibly only with a split-hair difference.
Fotini Christia, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
Forecast: Kerry by a hair's-breadth.


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