The man on the mask

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Golden Oldies Costumes in Post Falls carries a variety of Halloween masks representing former presidents.

It's official. The presidential election is pretty much decided.

Not because of savvy angles the candidates worked at the third debate. Not because of boosted campaign funding or icy TV ads.

The Halloween mask sales have got this one.

According to CNN Money, Halloween masks of President Barack Obama are outselling masks of Mitt Romney at Spirit Halloween stores nationwide by a 60 to 40 percent margin.

The mask sales have been an accurate election predictor since 1996, according to CNN.

So there you have it. Election over.

"It's a spark of hope," said Paula Neils, chair of the Kootenai County Democrat Central Committee, with a chuckle.

In Kootenai County, though, the outcome isn't looking so certain.

It's Romney's wrinkled visage that's outselling Obama's grinning mug at the Spirit Halloween shop on Appleway Avenue in Coeur d'Alene, said manager Jessica Combs.

"We only have one (left)," Combs said of the Romney masks.

Yet about 20 Obama masks were still sitting on the shelf on Wednesday.

Combs couldn't guess why, dismissing that "I just don't follow the politics" of mask sales.

But it could be a portend, said Neil Oliver, chair of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee.

"Of course we have more Republicans here that are confirmed Republicans," Oliver said, figuring that reds are prone to don disguises that support their cause. "I'd like to think it's one of those things that will come into the election. Maybe we can lead them into a national trend."

He doesn't know anyone who has purchased rubber Romneys, he said.

But he welcomed how the mask tracking "does lend humor during these elections," he said. "That's a rare thing."

Neils too said she's glad to see a poll that makes everyone grin, even if it's only because they're wearing masks.

"I was working with a group of Republicans a couple days ago and they were pretty grim faced," Neils said. "I thought, 'That's really too bad.'"

The mask outlook is otherwise foggy in the area.

According to other costume stores in the region, neither presidential candidate mask is selling, period.

There have been zero requests for the masks at Golden Oldies Costumes in Post Falls, said owner Diane Wahls.

"People want to go out and have fun, not be controversial," Wahls said. "Nobody wants to get punched."

The popularity of presidential masks has been waning over the years, she added. Last year, she only sold four Obama masks, she said, and about the same for John McCain likenesses.

"Back when Reagan was in, it was very popular," she said of candidate masks. "The last few years, not so much."

Cinnamon Lane, supervisor at Goodwill in Coeur d'Alene, added that no presidential masks have come through at all this year.

There's just no demand, she said.

"Everyone seems to be going with super heroes," she said.

Even at Party Palace in Spokane, nobody is plucking the presidential masks that are displayed "in a really prominent spot," said co-owner Michelle Duncan.

"They're equally not selling," she said, adding that the last-minute rush this weekend could see otherwise. "It's like the election is kind of 50-50."

Neils said she's just intrigued to learn who's wearing the ones that do sell.

"We might find out the night of the election," she said.

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