The 2012 US Presidential contest was not half as exciting, with the possibility of it going down to the wire, as the 2016 election is. But bring in history and superstition into the mix and you know it introduces a ``Well, it could go either way'' kind of a feeling.
I was in the US in October-November 2012, travelling through several battleground states as part of a group of 25 journalists from 25 countries to cover the Barack Obama versus Mitt Romney battle for the White House. The election that year was on November 6. This is part of a standardized procedure since 1845, whereby American presidential elections are held on the Tuesday after the first Monday of November, once every four years.
The Republicans that year, were banking on history. “Did you know that so far six Presidential elections have been held on November 6?” said one of the county candidates from the Republican Party at a Mitt Romney meeting I attended. Drawing a blank response, he proceeded to enlighten the audience. “The first time an election was held on November 6 was in 1860, when Abraham Lincoln won. The last was in 1984, when Ronald Reagan won. All six candidates were Republicans. So this time friends, we got to make it a seventh time. History is on our side.”
To emphasise the point, `OMG' was embossed on Republican T-shirts. That expanded to `Obama Must Go'. But in the end, the American voters made the November 6 scorecard read, Republicans 6, Democrats 1.
This time, Donald Trump is reminding America of 1988, the last time, the vote to elect the president was cast on November 8. Republican George Bush won that year, ensuring the party's hold over White House continued for a third consecutive term after Reagan's eight-year regime. Can Trump am-Bush Hillary Clinton next week?
Then there is the October surprise, that always threatens to be an X-factor in the November poll. The Osama bin Laden videotape on October 29, a week before polling in 2004, helped George Bush as it heightened security concerns among Americans. In 2008, the October surprise came a month early with the collapse of the Lehmann brothers in September. That helped Obama's promise of hope and change gain traction and strength.
In October 2012, the Democrat camp was worried if its handling of the devastation post Hurricane Sandy could push Obama on the back foot. The power cuts and long queues outside gas stations in New Jersey were pictures that conveyed an undercurrent of discontent. But then a certificate from Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, for Obama seemed to tame the possible electoral devastation. Christie praised President Obama's handling of Sandy and the Trojan horse like impact was a setback to Romney.
This year, FBI chief James Comey's explosive revelation on Hillary Clinton's email case where he said that his agents will review new email, could well prove to be the October surprise. After the three debates where Hillary trumped Donald, many believe the latest googly could give Trump's floundering campaign a lift.
Then of course, there is the Presidential Cookie Bake-off, a culinary contest that has been part of the countdown since 1992. In this, the candidates' spouses are asked to submit family cookie recipes for readers to compare and vote. Five out of six times till 2012, the winner's husband went on to win the Presidential election as well.
In 2012, Michelle Obama's white and dark chocolate chip cookies won over Ann Romney's M&M cookies by just 287 votes, the smallest margin ever. But then Michelle's lemon shortbread cookies had lost to Cindy McCain's oatmeal butterscotch recipe in 2008. However, Obama went on to win the election.
This time, Melania Trump's star cookies made with sugar cream lost to Bill Clinton's oatmeal chocolate chips by 535 to 1623 likes on Facebook, where this contest was held. Incidentally, Hillary Clinton had offered the same recipe twice in 1992 and 1996 and won both times. Clinton chose the safer option of a tried and tested recipe.
The Clintons would hope that with the Trump cookie crumbling, they have the recipe for another stint at the White House.