- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 26, 2016

It’s been a down year for the woolly bear caterpillar, which could be a good sign for Republicans in November.

A University of California Davis team led by entomology professor Rick Karban, who has tracked woolly bear caterpillars since the early 1980s, found that the fuzzy grubs have correctly predicted the winner of every presidential election since 1984.

How? It turns out the caterpillars have been abundant in years when the Democrat candidate won the presidency, and significantly less so when the Republican prevailed — and 2016 has been below average. But there’s a caveat.

“A superficial examination suggests that 2016 will be a Republican year — woolly bear abundance is not particularly high,” said the researchers in a Monday post on the blog Natural Musings. “However, looking a little closer, it may not be.”

As of March, the number of woolly bear caterpillars per lupine bush in Bodega Bay, California, was 152 percent higher than the average Republican year, and 36 percent higher than in 1988, the highest Republican year ever recorded, according to the analysis.

“However, it is only 27% of an average Democratic year and still only 36% of the lowest Democratic year (2008),” the report said. “This result is without presidential precedent in the last 30 years.”

Researchers say the findings may open the door for a third-party victory.

“We suspect that the Republicans have the edge. However, a valid hypothesis would be a third-party winner, such as a right-leaning independent (a logical placeholder in between Democrats and Republicans),” the report said.

“Perhaps Donald Trump will take particular interest in our data,” the analysis said.

The study took into account the eight presidential elections starting in 1984, which broke evenly for Democrats and Republicans. The caterpillar count was taken each March.

While some may be skeptical of the caterpillars’ predictive abilities, the researchers point out that the furry bugs have a far better track record than even the most highly regarded pollsters and news sources.

“Given their wildly erroneous predictions thus far for both primaries, trusting their predictions for the general election seems ill-advised,” the report said. “The woolly bears, on the other hand, have a 100% accurate prediction record over the past 30 years.”

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