Football scores, eye blinks and cookie recipes. For years, scientists, historians, economists, statisticians and others have all developed their own special method of predicting the winner in a presidential election. But this reporter has stumbled across perhaps the most consistent and reliable predictor yet: counting votes.

Now, each method does have its pros and cons.

For 17 straight elections, the outcome of the final Washington Redskins pre-election home game has predicted the president. If they win, so does the incumbent. Either way, Native Americans lose.

One scientist has analyzed presidential debates since 1960 for the answers, but not by listening to the candidates' words. Boston College psych professor Joseph Tecce says the more a candidate blinks, the less likely he is to win. In the latest debates, the presidential results were mixed, but on the VP side, Edwards far outblinked Cheney. Of course, when taking into account the fact that Dick Cheney is dead, it's remarkable he's able to blink at all, much less run the country.

In a completely different direction, we can look for guidance from more traditional sources: the nation's ovens. Family Circle magazine's Cookie Cook-Off has accurately called the last four elections. This year, Laura Bush's chocolate chip cookies beat Teresa Heinz's pumpkin spice by a landslide. However, the results may have been impacted by the fact that Laura Bush and her evangelical followers spend a lot more time at home preparing snack packs for the Rapture than their science-burdened counterparts.

Finally, there's our nation's oldest prediction model. Election after election, our research shows that counting votes for candidates is the most reliable technique. Voting actually pre-dates football, televised debates and cookies. Out of 53 presidential elections, this method has failed only twice: a remarkable record by any standard.

So after all the passes are thrown, cookies baked, blinks analyzed and votes cast, in the end, we just have to wait and see what the Surpreme Court decides.