For Barack Obama, it was playing basketball. For Michelle Wu, this is her last MBTA token.

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Politics

Taking a look at the rituals and lucky charms politicians hope will help them on election day.

When Michelle Wu’s campaign has something to celebrate, they do it at Ron’s Gourmet Ice Cream Shop in Hyde Park. Here, Wu is pictured with U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley, who endorsed her earlier this month.

Election Day, which takes place on Tuesday, may seem unrelated to trick-or-treat. However, politics and Halloween have long been associated with eccentric superstitions, unscientific rituals, and other peculiar traditions.

Barack Obama’s superstitions forced him to play basketball on election day. His 2008 opponent, John McCain, had a assortment of superstitions which included watching a movie on election day. James Carville, a Bill Clinton strategist, sadly refused to change his underwear during good stretches of the 1992 campaign. Jen Psaki, press secretary to President Joe Biden, often donned it lucky cowboy boots as Obama’s campaign assistant.

Closer to Boston, where Red Sox fans remained superstitious cheering their feet on during playoff baseball games at Fenway Park, campaign superstitions and rituals help give some candidates and their employees an edge. perceived psychological.

City Councilor Michelle Wu, who can sometimes be seen wearing a lucky MBTA token around her neck as she campaigned for Boston mayor, usually played the piano at her Roslindale home ahead of her debates.

“On the trail, I keep the rituals fairly simple,” Wu said in an email. “I am wearing my T token necklace made by a local artist from my last token. I play the piano, a little Gershwin, before the debates. Our campaign stops at Ron for special celebrations.

One of the more recent occasions Wu and his campaign assistants celebrated at Ron’s Gourmet ice cream shop in Hyde Park was after a sponsorship event earlier this month with U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley. Wu almost always orders caramel fudge brownie balls, his favorite, said general manager Jay Covitz.

“She has been a very loyal customer since becoming a city councilor,” said Covitz, whose family have owned Ron’s since 1952 and also had the late Mayor Tom Menino as their patron.

City councilor Annissa Essaibi George, Wu’s opponent in the mayoral race, declined interview requests for this story.

Of course, superstitions have been around for generations. This is evident from the Salem witch trials in colonial Massachusetts between 1692 and 1693, when around 20 people were executed and over 200 were wrongly linked to “devil’s magic,” otherwise known as witchcraft. .

Efforts to exonerate the accused witches continue three centuries later. However, the Satanic Temple of Salem, which sought to impeach Wu on Election Day in a federal matter defying prayers at town hall public meetings, did not shy away from the diabolical associations.

New England Puritans believed luck played a big part in their lives, according to the New England Historical Society. The rituals involved placing horseshoes on the entrances of houses and putting old shoes in the walls to ward off evil spirits.

Before President Ulysses S. Grant got a second term in 1872, a widespread superstition in American politics was that no president with what might be considered a middle name could be reelected. John Quincy Adams, Martin Van Buren, William Henry Harrison, and James Knox Polk each failed in their efforts.

“The idea was based on the fact that every president so endowed, up to this time, had not, for one reason or another, been re-elected,” writes historian Edward Stanwood in a 1912 article. item on political superstitions for The Atlantic.

Stanwood, a former Boston newspaper editor who died in 1923 before Franklin Delano Roosevelt buried superstition three times, noted that Grover Cleveland may still have given up his first name, Stephen, since neither Rutherford Birchard Hayes, James Abram Garfield nor Chester Allan Arthur have the luck of Grant.

Ronald Reagan, who survived an assassination attempt and broke a dark spell in the process, considered himself superstitious. His wife, Nancy, followed astrology with a passion. They weren’t alone. A Gallup poll in 2000, up to a quarter of Americans considered themselves superstitious.

Only time will tell how lucky Wu and the other politicians who have engaged in superstitious rituals will be. But the two-term city councilor is considering a more conventional Halloween sighting with her family.

“My boys, Blaise and Cass, are having Halloween at our house with the help of my sister who is still making their costumes,” Wu said. “They are obsessed with Transformers right now, so this year’s costumes will be ambitious and will feature thoughtful engineering! “


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