I'm Going As Barack Obama
The $29.99 Barack Obama masks were so popular at the Halloween Adventure store in New York City that when they sold out, customers started trying to buy the display model. Yet the balding John McCain masks, selling for the same price, were left in the bins behind the register.
The Obama mask shortage is good news for the Democratic presidential nominee. For the last 12 years, Halloween Spirit’s mask sales have eerily predicted the election winner: George Bush masks outsold John Kerry masks in 2004; Bush outsold Al Gore in 2000; and Bill Clinton masks beat out Bob Dole (by a whopping 42 points) in 1996.
The Halloween Spirit Presidential Index — a poll by the 625-store nationwide chain Halloween Spirit — suggests that the candidate with the bestselling mask will win the election.
A week before the election, Obama masks were beating McCain masks 62 percent to 38 percent nationwide. As Halloween neared, all that remained on the political mask rack in the New York store were forlorn renderings of has-beens: George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Bill and Hillary Clinton.
“Obama sold out really quickly,” said store manager Lupe Figura. (A few days before Halloween, the store sold the last McCain mask.)
As with any presidential poll, the most important numbers are in the swing states. At Spirit Halloween in Miami, “pretty much the Obama and McCain masks are completely done,” said associate Kat Akrum. “But I think the Obama masks went a lot quicker.”
Carla Young, store manager at Spirit Halloween in Springfield, Ohio, noticed a similar trend. “I’m out of Obama and still have McCain,” she said.
Total Halloween spending this year is expected to reach $5.77 billion, up nearly 14 percent from last year’s estimated $5.07 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Much of that money will go towards political costumes, with an estimated 574,000 Americans planning to dress up as a political figure.
According to Tony Bianchi, the owner of Halloween Adventure, the most popular political costumes depict people who are easy to parody. The most popular political mask of all time is of former president Richard Nixon, whose iconic nose lives on in latex rubber, even after his death. Even easy-to-spoof non-politicians have become political costume targets. Monica Lewinsky was a favorite in 1998. The newest non-politician costume trend to emerge from the presidential election is a do-it-yourself Joe the Plumber look, with bald cap, plunger, jumpsuit, and nametag.
But this year’s biggest political costume craze is dressing up as Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
“Palin – she’s new, and everyone’s asking,” said Bianchi. His first shipment of 30 Palin masks nearly sold out overnight.
Unable to satisfy the surging demand for Palin costumes, stores are selling some creative alternatives.
One Palin-based combination: the “sexy trapper” get-up, including a gun and fur-rimmed strapless top. Another: a Miss Alaska/Miss Vice President beauty pageant sash, to be worn with an American flag bikini. The governor’s signature rimless glasses and swept up hairstyle wigs are sold separately.
Chrissy Paduch came up with a different twist. She’ll be a “hockey mom.” The 26-year-old Manhattan resident sees this as a way to “poke fun at the whole election,” she said. Her accessories include a hockey jersey, old hockey stick, and, of course, plenty of lipstick.
Conspicuously absent are costumes of Obama’s running mate, Delaware Senator Joe Biden.
“There’s no Biden because Biden is boring,” Bianchi explained.
Biden is not the only political figure without a mask. Apparently Michelle Obama does not easily translate to latex. Brooklyn resident Alexis Bruno, 39, went to Halloween Adventure to buy husband-and-wife Obama masks. Since there’s no Michelle mask, “Now I’m going as McCain,” she said. “But I’m going to hand out ‘vote for Obama’ fliers, and wear an Obama T-shirt.”