Heading into election day, President Obama and Mitt Romney are nearly deadlocked in the polls, yet both sides appear confident — too confident — that victory is at hand. Obama has a slim lead in several key swing states, so political analysts say he has a better chance of piling up the 270 votes needed to win in the Electoral College. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney still has plenty of viable paths to the White House. Luckily, several prognostication systems that enthusiasts consider more effective than polling have reached emphatic conclusions. Here, four not-quite-airtight omens:
1. The Redskins lost, so Romney wins
"It's called the Redskins Rule," says John Lauinger at the New York Daily News. If the Washington, D.C., professional football team wins its final home game before the election, the incumbent party holds onto the White House. The rule has held true in 17 of the 18 election-year seasons since the team moved to the nation's capital in 1940. That's bad news for President Obama, since the 'Skins lost, at home, to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, 21-13. "If Mitt Romney defeats President Obama, he should send every member of the Carolina Panthers a thank-you card."
2. In the ancestral Kenyan village of Obama's father, the president gets positive signs
Pollsters use "interviews, statistical analysis, and technology to predict the outcome of the election," say Joe Mwihia and Ben Curtis at The Associated Press. In Kogela, Kenya — the ancestral village of Obama's father, Barack Obama Sr. — a 105-year-old traditional healer named John Dimo has other methods of foretelling the future. After tossing shells, bones, and other items, Dimo says Tuesday's result isn't in doubt. "Obama is very far ahead," he says, pointing to a white shell, "and is definitely going to win."
3. The "Flip Rule" says Obama loses
One time-tested omen is creating a dark cloud over Obama's re-election bid. Let's call it the "Flip Rule," says blogger QSClues at RedState. "No incumbent has ever won a second term without winning a state that he did not win in his first election." George W. Bush, for example, flipped New Mexico and Iowa, carrying them in 2004 although he lost them in 2000. In 1984, Ronald Reagan won five of the six states that he lost in 1980. By this metric, things aren't looking good for Obama. "Frankly, he's not even competitive in any state McCain won." The competing argument: The president had such a big cushion in 2008 that, even if he merely holds onto most of the states he carried four years ago, he can win.
4. Dick Morris predicts a Romney landslide, so Obama wins
Obama fans who fear defeat should cheer up, says David Neiwart at Crooks and Liars. Fox News-contributing, nonsense-spewing hack Dick Morris is predicting that Romney will win in a landslide! "Anything he predicts [turns out] to be not just wrong, but laughably, head-shakingly so, whether it's his advice on handling the democracy uprising in Egypt, his prediction of impeachment hearings for Obama, his claims Obamacare would bring about 'euthanasia,' or whether Bill Clinton should have negotiated the release of two hostages in North Korea." The man is "the perfect reverse barometer." If he's predicting Obama is in for a drubbing, it's time for the president to put some champagne on ice.
Read more political coverage at The Week's 2012 Election Center.