Yes, there is a Sexy Donald Trump Costume out there. It’s being marketed under the name Donna T. Rumpshaker, which is how costume makers avoid getting sued while simultaneously showing you they have the sense of humor of a high school freshman. This ensemble comes with a shirt, blazer, tie and booty shorts. The wig and “Make America Great” hat (notice the missing “again” in the phrase for trademark purposes) are sold separately. Free panty with orders over $7.95.
This ensemble troubles me for two reasons. The first is that I’m a thinking adult who is baffled by the idea that someone would think fetishizing Donald Trump is a thing that needs to exist. As one Twitter user put it, Donald Trump is someone who would be more at home as the villain in a movie where the hero is a dog. He does not need to be the source of awkward pagan holiday boners. Maybe it’s the cosplay elitist in me, but if you want to be a sexy character, why not just dress as a sexy character? Did women in impractically skimpy costumes disappear from all media while I was in the bathroom or something? Oh, hello, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's Quiet. Thanks for showing up to prove they have not.
Leaving aside our need to try to turn every single thing in the world into wank material, Rumpshaker bothers me for another, more sinister reason. Political Halloween costume sales can accurately predict who will be the president. CNN Money looked into the phenomenon in 2004. In their analysis of mask sales of the political candidates vying for the White House, every election from 1980 to 2000 went to whoever sold the most masks. Their theory held water in the subsequent three elections.
Now granted, this is a measure of the Halloween of the actual election years, and even though you wouldn’t know it to watch the news right now, we aren’t electing a president in 2015. There is another seasonal cycle to go through before we can accurately start looking at this weird but fairly consistent indicator of who will replace Barack Obama.
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Yandy, the people behind Rumpshaker, don’t have a sexy Hillary Clinton or a sexy Bernie Sanders or even a sexy Carly Fiorina outfit for sale, and BuyCostumes.com isn’t selling any politician costumes this year except for a Richard Nixon mask, as far as I can tell. That means that not only does Trump still lead the Republican field in all the latest polls, he is the only pre-made Halloween costume game in town right now. That is a significant indicator of how much of a public figure he is, if not necessarily an indicator of his qualifications for the job he is applying for.
Name recognition matters. A lot. In 2011, Princeton did a study showing that “In contrast to scholarship suggesting that name recognition does not directly influence candidate support, we find clear evidence of a causal link, which demonstrates that – in at least some conditions – name recognition can increase candidate support.” This is particularly important for 2016 because the same study found that one criteria overshadowed name recognition: incumbency status. There will be no incumbent candidate in the election next year, which means that it’s the candidate with the biggest name who is likely to win.
On the other hand, this could all still fall apart. Trump may be ahead in the polls, but it’s still a long way to securing the actual nomination from the GOP. We won’t know until…let me check, Christ, July of next year when the Republicans hold their convention in Cleveland, Ohio. There’s plenty of time for costumers to cobble together a Carly Fiorina visage out of an old Celine Dion mask between then and October 31 if called upon to do so. In the meantime, though, Sexy Trump remains the lead in the oddly essential political Halloween outfit enthusiast demographic.