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Big Bird Costumes, Romney Masks Are Hot This Halloween

He emerged as a breakout star from the first presidential debate and he's the focus of an Obama campaign ad . Now, he may be appearing at your friend's next Halloween party or on your doorstep at the end of the month.

Big Bird, the beloved "Sesame Street" character-turned-political football, might just be the Halloween costume to wear this election season. The feathered costumes started flying off shelves after Republican Mitt Romney mentioned the 8-foot bird during his debate against President Obama last week.

"Big Bird was a big surprise seller this year, " said Melody Bleak, a manager at New York's Halloween Adventure, which sold out of the costume earlier this week. The store started the season with about 20 in stock, she said. The same is true of Ricky's, an East Coast Halloween and beauty chain which was out of stock of the bird getup online.

The beloved children's icon was also a hit on the opposite coast. Hollywood Toys & Costumes in Los Angeles sold out of licensed "Sesame Street" character ensemble , said store manager Steve Elowitz, who even checked the store's warehouse to be sure.

And many people seem to be curious about the costume, even if they haven't committed to it yet. Brad Butler, chief operating officer of Halloween Express, said the national chain has sold only five of the costumes online, despite a spike in searches — more than 400 this week alone.

He also noticed that the presidential debate had an unexpected impact on another favorite costume — presidential masks. Before the debate, the two candidates were about even.

"Since the debate, we're selling two-to-one Romney to Obama, " he said.

Other retailers are seeing a similar spike, includingSpirit Halloween, which has locations around the country.

"Romney's Halloween mask sales ... have increased since last week, " said Lisa Barr, senior director of marketing for Spirit Halloween. "Mitt Romney may not care how many people dress up like Big Bird this year, but if our history predicting the next president stands, he might want to use the next debate to suggest a Romney mask for Halloween." (Read More: Who's Winning—Obama or Romney? A Scary Indicator! )

President Barack Obama is leading the sales in that face-off at New York's Halloween Adventure, according to Bleak, and Elowitz remained mum on who's leading the race at his store.

"We support both sides when it comes to sales, " he said.

So it remains to be seen which contender will win the votes of Halloween revelers this year. The sale of presidential candidates' Halloween masks is seen by many as an unscientific but strangely accurate predictor in presidential elections. The tradition dates back to 1988, when Ronald Reagan outsold Jimmy Carter.

Retail