Forget about Punxsutawney Phil. At Rutgers, forecasts are made by Madagascar hissing cockroaches.
For the 18th year straight, The New Jersey Pest Management Association (NJPMA) staged a “Cockroach Derby” during its annual clinic and trade show on Thursday afternoon outside of Hickman Hall.
Onlookers eaglerly watched as two cockroaches, adorned with tiny paper cutouts of presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, raced to the finish line in a red, white and blue box.
The results? Clinton won the first race in a landslide, speeding ahead of Trump who trailed behind by about 45 seconds. In the second round, a a third-party cockroach was added and surpassed both Clinton and Trump, with Clinton in second and Trump dragging along in third place.
"Since most of this country can't decide on any of these guys, we're gonna introduce a third-party candidate," Phil Cooper, president of the NJPMA, told the audience.
The event began in the 1990s as entertainment, but has since morphed into a fairly faithful predictor of election results, boasting 84 percent accuracy. The event is held for presidential elections, primary races and gubernatorial tickets.
"Our accuracy is pretty strong," Cooper said. "This year, there's a little divisiveness over who people here want to win."
At last year's event, the Trump cockroach came out as the reigning champion in two of three races against primary opponents Jeb Bush and Chris Christie— foretelling Trump's eventual rise to the top of the Republican ticket earlier this year.
And the race's accuracy dates back even further to the 1992 election, when the George H.W. Bush cockroach was disqualified because it flew away in the middle of the race. Bill Clinton later won the election in November.
Hillary Clinton's landslide win at this year's event may mirror her climb in the polls over the past few weeks in key battleground states.
A recent Quinnipiac University poll showed the Democratic candidate leading in Colorado, Virginia and Iowa. Clinton is ahead of Trump by 10 points in Colorado (49 percent to 39 percent), 12 points in Virginia (50 percent to 38 percent) and 3 points in Iowa (47 percent to 44 percent).
Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson rose to double digits in the Quinnipiac poll, while Green Party candidate Jill Stein remains in the single digits.
Avalon Zoppo is the managing editor of The Daily Targum. She is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science. Follow her on Twitter @AvalonZoppo for more stories.