October 28, 2012

Even in Halloween mask sales, candidates face off

A national retailer links 'victory' at the cash register to victory in the presidential race -- but skeptics say it's not so.

By Ray Routhier rrouthier@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

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Jeremy Davis and Scott Stevens, employees at Spirit Halloween in South Portland, model masks of Mitt Romney and President Obama. Nationally, Obama was outselling Romney as of last week, says the chain, which claims that sales of such masks have been a successful indicator of presidential preference since 1996.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

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Michele Tobey of Cape Elizabeth uses Obama and Romney masks on these scarecrows, which she’s entered in a local contest. She often finds cars stopped in the street with passengers taking pictures of the figures.

Michele Tobey photo

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You're invited to enter our GO Halloween Costume Contest. Just email a photo of someone -- even a pet -- wearing the costume to features@pressherald.com by noon Nov. 1. Entries will be posted online at www.pressherald.com/life/go, and one entry will be chosen at random to win four tickets to a Portland Pirates hockey game. Please include your name, town, phone number, name and age of person or pet in the photo, and name of a parent or guardian if the person in the photo is under 18.

"But I don't think people were too happy with that, so I keep changing the positions," said Tobey, who sells real estate and works for a mortgage company.

One week, she had the masked scarecrows positioned at podiums, as in a debate. Another week, she had them wearing boxing gloves, poised for punches.

Whatever pose she chooses, Tobey says the masked figures draw attention.

"Every day, there are two or three cars that pull up to look or take pictures," said Tobey.

Obama might be outselling Romney in the mask department because his masks have been around for four years, so he's got a head start. Or it might be because Obama's personality and look are more recognizable to people, says Deede Dunbar, consignment operator of Spirit Halloween stores in South Portland, Bangor and Waterville.

"We carry both masks, but we have a lot more of Obama because he's been a big seller for a while," said Dunbar.

Karen Morgan, a Maine-based comedian living in Cumberland, has her own theory as to why Obama masks are the bigger sellers.

"Romney mask sales are low because they didn't make as many," said Morgan. "Latex is expensive, and his forehead is humongous."

Korzen, who knows a lot of politically minded people in his job working for Maine's Majority, doesn't know anyone who has bought a candidate mask. That leads him to believe that mask sales are not really indicators of political preference -- or even good Halloween accessories -- but merely pop culture props.

"At the end of the day, you dress up as someone for Halloween because they are either scary or they are cool," said Korzen. "Romney, of course, is neither."

Korzen thinks retailers should sell Halloween costumes based on some of the things Romney has said during the course of the campaign. But he doesn't think they will, so he and a friend are working on their own Romney-themed get-up.

Staff Writer Ray Routhier can be contacted at 791-6454 or at: rrouthier@pressherald.com

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