It’s not easy to be a groundhog. Consider:
- In 2013, Butler County, Ohio prosecutor Michael Gmoser indicted the groundhog, calling for the death penalty for “misrepresentation of early spring, an Unclassified Felony, and against the peace and dignity of the State Of Ohio.” (HERE)
- One of the last things groundhog Charlotte saw was her shadow before being dropped by New York mayor Bill de Blasio in 2014. (She died of internal injuries a week later. HERE)
- Even guessing right isn’t enough to keep a poor groundhog safe. On February 11th 2015, the Merrimack Police Department in New Hampshire issued an arrest warrant for Punxsutawney Phil. According to the complaint against Phil, “He told several people that Winter would last 6 more week, however he failed to disclose that it would consist of mountains of snow!” (HERE)
In the old days, it was called Candlemas, and if a sacred animal such as a badger or bear saw its shadow, there would be more weeks of winter ahead. When German immigrants to the US brought this tradition, they took the opportunity to choose a new sacred weather prognosticator. Bears were in short supply and nobody in their right mind messes with badgers. Since Groundhog Day was officially proclaimed in 1887, Punksatawney Phil has had an accuracy rate of about 39%. You could basically flip a coin and get more accurate results.
But according to this December 11, 2015 report in the New York Times from fact checkers at PolitiFact, your results would STILL be more accurate than relying on statements by our top presidential contenders and politicians:
- Ben Carson (4% true or mostly true)
- Donald Trump (7% True or mostly true)
- Ted Cruz (22% true or mostly true)
- Carly Fiorina (28% true or mostly true)
- Marco Rubio (4% true or mostly true).
- (NOTE: Hillary Clinton, Barak Obama, and Bill Clinton still hovered in coin-flipping ranges of 48-51% accuracy.)
So as we go into the Iowa caucuses, I would like to make the following proposal in honor of Groundhog Day:
Let’s line the presidential candidates up in the snow, check for shadows, and send them back to hibernate for the next six weeks. Meanwhile, Punksatawney Phil has decided to get into a line of work where accuracy isn’t an important factor: he’s running for President.