Pickle poll properly predicts presidential preference

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OGDENSBURG, New York (AP) -- The pickle pollster sure can pick 'em.

Eugene F. "Pucker" O'Grady's "Pickle Poll" proved more precise than those of prominent national pollsters when he predicted Al Gore would top George W. Bush in the popular vote in this year's presidential election.

Every presidential year since 1992, O'Grady has chopped up a five-inch gherkin into as many pieces as there are candidates.

He takes a tiny sliver off for each independent candidate, based on how he thinks they'll do, then measures the balance and cuts it in half, giving the left side to Democrats, the right to Republicans. After letting it dry for three days, he counts the seeds and picks his winner.

Voters nationwide gave Democrat Al Gore and Republican George W. Bush about 48 percent of the popular vote each. Gore held a slight lead.

When O'Grady split his pickle in August, the seeds spelled out a Gore popular vote victory: 49.7 percent to 46.6 percent for Bush.

On Monday, the day before the now-historic and fiercely contested election, only two national polls gave Gore the lead.

The idea for a pickle poll struck O'Grady in 1992, when he was sunning himself on a beach along the St. Lawrence River. "By God," he told himself, "there must be something that the lonely pickle can be used for."

That year, he cut the pickle into three slices -- H. Ross Perot was a strong third-party candidate. The pickle predicted Bill Clinton would defeat George Bush 42.6 percent to 36.2 percent and Perot would get 21.2 percent of the vote. Clinton ended up a 43-37 winner over Bush with Perot taking 19 percent.

"I was right on the button," he said.

In 1996, he only predicted a major Clinton win. He was right again.

In this day of million-dollar polls and margins of error, there are advantages to using the briny vegetable to select the leader of the free world, O'Grady says.

"In 1992, I paid only 10 cents for the one pickle," said the 76-year-old veteran. "And I only cut the pickle once. That's it, final. No 3 or 4 percent (margin of error)."

O'Grady won't get involved in the controversy brewing over the popular vote versus the Electoral College vote.

"The pickle doesn't know anything about the Electoral College," he said. "After all, it's a pickle."

-- Pickle Seed (one@seed.of.many), November 11, 2000


Pickles precisely prognosticating? Preposterous!

-- I'm Here, I'm There (I'm Everywhere@so.beware), November 12, 2000.

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