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For Halloween costumes, Trump and Clinton in tight race

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In Massachusetts, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are running neck and neck. Nationally, though, it's a different story — Trump is winning Halloween in a landslide.

Local retailers say the two presidential candidates are easily the most popular costumes this Halloween, with blond wigs, faux pearls, and orange makeup flying off the shelves.

But while the candidates appear to be splitting the popular vote in Boston-area costume shops, Spirit Halloween, which has stores around the country, said Trump is easily leading its national Presidential Mask Index, 55 percent to 45 percent.

That's a number worth watching because Spirit says that since 1996, the candidate with the best-selling mask has gone on to win the presidential election.


"Any time there's a presidential election, the candidates are going to be the popular costumes," said Jeanne Keenan, the owner of the Costume Company in Arlington, which sold its last Trump mask on Saturday.

This Halloween, Keenan said, Trump jumped out to a lead with early buyers — Trump masks were selling big as far back as September — but Clinton has made a steady comeback.

"You can do more with Trump because he's more of a fun character and Hillary is nondescript, but we've seen some creative Hillarys," she said. "One went as Superwoman Hillary; another went as jail Hillary."

Indeed, choosing to dress as a candidate is not necessarily an endorsement.

In a poll Spirit did with 2,000 adults, the top reason people said they were dressing up as Trump was to be funny, while the top reason people were dressing as Clinton was because they like her.

According to the Spirit poll, those who dressed as Trump were twice as likely to be doing it to mock the candidate, as opposed to those who dressed as Clinton — 32 percent versus 16 percent.


Democrats and Republicans were evenly split in another category: About 1 in 4 said the reason they were dressing as the opposition candidate was "to frighten America."

"I've voted Republican my whole life, but I am not voting for Trump," said George Leavitt, 41, of Salem, N.H., who dressed as Trump for a Halloween party on Saturday. "I just thought it would be funny, and we've got a similar build, and I needed to buy a new suit anyway," he said.

When he went to buy the suit, the tailor told him he should get it a few sizes too big if he really wanted to look like Trump.

"My wife painted my face orange and my eyes white, and I thought my costume was going to start more of a political discussion, but people just laughed," he said.

He was the only Trump at his party, but not the only Trump-themed costume. There were two different women dressed as Miss Universe, and they both rushed up to take a photo with him.

Chris Roddick, 35, of Hyde Park, took his Trump costume to another level by covering his power suit with Trumpisms — "Nasty woman" and "Rigged" were two of the more printable lines — as he went party hopping in Provincetown Saturday night.

"I ran into a couple of other Trumps, and a woman in a Hillary costume," said Roddick, who plans to vote for Clinton. "I told her she was going to jail."

The National Retail Federation says that consumer spending on Halloween jumps each presidential election year, and that 4 percent of adults over the age of 35 will be wearing a political costume this year, making it the third most-popular category after witches and pirates.


In 2008, when President Obama was first elected, Halloween retail sales jumped 14 percent over the previous year, much of it on the heels of the wildly popular Sarah Palin costumes.

In 2012, when Obama won reelection over Mitt Romney, Halloween sales again jumped, up 16 percent over the previous year, according to the National Retail Federation, which is predicting that Halloween sales this year will jump to an all-time high of $8.4 billion.

At Boston Costume in Cambridge, which is located inside The Garment District, a vintage clothing store, manager Sean Clark said people have been combing the racks for pantsuits and power ties. They've already sold out of masks for both candidates, and Clark said he'd give a slight edge to Clinton in popularity.

"If anything, Trump was more popular last Halloween," Clark said, "when all this stuff was just starting."

Billy Baker can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @billy_baker.