Jewish World Review Oct. 28, 2004 / 13 Mar-Cheshvan 5765
What's in a Name? Everything
It was back in 1991 after we had won the Persian Gulf war and George H.W. Bush's approval ratings were in the stratosphere that I first heard from Corey Ruzicka.
He called to tell me that Bush would lose re-election and a semi-obscure politician named Bill Clinton would win.
Ruzicka, who today is an advertising executive living in Arlington, Texas, is almost never wrong about his presidential predictions even though he does no polling, conducts no focus groups and talks to not a single voter.
How does Ruzicka do it? Easy. He looks at the last letter of the last name of each candidate.
"Clinton is going to win," Ruzicka told me back then, "because his name ends in N. Of America's 51 presidential elections, 22 of them have been won by the candidate whose last name ended in N. Would you like me to name the N-enders who won?"
Not really, I said.
"Washington, Van Buren, Buchanan, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Harrison, Reaganů" Ruzicka began.
Are these in order? I asked.
"No," Ruzicka said. "Jefferson, Lyndon Johnson, Lincoln, Madison, Jackson . . ."
Michael Jackson was never president! I said. You are making this up!
"Not Michael Jackson, Andrew Jackson," Ruzicka said. "Can I go on?"
Would it do any good if I said no? I said.
"Nixon, Wilson and Truman," Ruzicka said. "Only two times in history have we had major presidential nominees whose name ended in H, and each time the economy has gone to hell. Al Smith was the Democratic presidential nominee in 1928, and the country then faced the 1929 Depression."
But Al Smith lost the presidential race, I said.
"Doesn't matter," Ruzicka said. "His name ended in H."
So who's the other H?
"George H. W. Bush," Ruzicka said. "As soon as Bush was nominated I knew the economy would go bad. Everyone thought I was nuts because the economy was robust. But I was right."
In July, 2000, I called Ruzicka and asked who was going to win: George W. Bush or Al Gore.
And he gave a tiny edge to Gore. "When we have had candidates whose name ends in an E, they have had four wins and eight losses," Ruzicka said. "When we have had candidates whose name ends in H, they have had one win and two losses."
And since Gore won the popular vote, you can say Ruzicka was correct.
According to Ruzicka, the last letter of the vice president's name also has a lot to do with things. "Whenever we have a Y- or L-ending winning or losing presidential or vice presidential candidate, we have a major war with casualties within four years," he said.
I printed that and, sure enough, Dick Cheney got elected vice president and we went to war in Iraq, the curse of the Y-enders. (The economy also turned bad, the curse of the H-enders.)
So who will win this time, I asked Ruzicka recently.
"This is the toughest election I ever predicted," he said. "I've got Bush winning, but by a hair. Y-enders (as in John Kerry) are 3 wins and 9 losses since George Washington and H-enders are now two and two now. But we have never re-elected a Y-ending vice president."
"Regardless of who wins we will be in Iraq for the next 4 years, because Cheney ends in Y and Kerry ends in Y," Ruzicka went on. "There will be more terrorism around the world and North Korea will heat up because of the Y."
Ruzicka said 2008 would be better because both Hillary Clinton and John McCain have N-ending names and N-enders are always popular.
Swell, I said. But why do Americans like people whose names end in N?
"Your name ends in N," Ruzicka said.
Good point, I said.
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