This far out from an election, pundits and statisticians frequently turn to national polls for something to talk about, but there’s more fun to be had with polling than a hypothetical showdown between candidates who haven’t even secured their party’s nomination. For instance: according to Gallup, the percentage of people who object to staying on the 13th floor of a hotel is, oddly enough, 13.

Thanks to reader Alex Shaloub for the tip!


The interesting phenomenon of fear of the number 13, technically known as triskaidekaphobia, has significant economic implications. Developers of hotels and office buildings have to make the decision whether to include a 13th floor to avoid occupants superstitious desire to avoid working or staying on such a floor. Many hotels in Las Vegas, where luck and superstition are important psychological factors, do not have 13th floors, and other large hotel chains routinely skip from the 12th to the 14th floor, although, technically, the 14th floor is really the 13th floor of that building.

The Feb. 9-11, 2007 USA Today/Gallup poll asked Americans how much it would bother them to stay in a room on the 13th floor of a hotel.

The results show that an overwhelming 87% say they would not be bothered if they were assigned to the 13th floor of a hotel, while — interestingly — exactly 13% of those interviewed say it would bother them.

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