November 4, 2003
Tifton-- Political candidates often hire expensive polling companies to check the pulse of voters. But they could just ask a man who seems to know who will win.
Near a barber pole, political polling takes place before every general election. “I’ve always been real interested in politics and who was representing us,” says Hollis Flanders, a barber for 42 years. He decided one day to start talking politics with his customers, many who vote regularly.
“I don’t pick sides; I don’t campaign for anyone,” says Flanders as six men wait for their cut.
Often, his customers get in spirited political discussions, and he keeps mental notes about their thoughts and compares them with other opinions. His customers find the barbershop a safe place to talk, a natural, ongoing conversation topic since he has a steady stream of customers throughout the day.
Hollis uses a simple method to get people to express themselves. “I try to get people talking close to an election, and then I listen,” says Flanders. He didn’t know it at the time, but he started making a name for himself in political circles.
What started out as a joke has turned into something serious. A local radio reporter asked him to predict winners of various races 25 years ago. Hollis predicted the winner of every race, 100% accuracy, and a new pollster was born.
His success rate soared, going on to predict winners in 136 national, state, district and local races. “I think I’ve missed one in all the elections I’ve called, and it was a city council election.” He thought enough voters didn’t know the winning candidate. That missed call ruined a perfect record. Missing one out of 136 races over a quarter of a century amounts to an accuracy rate of 99.3%.