Obama Is Waving His Terrible Towel
Sen. Barack Obama is probably grateful that Redskins players have gone out stumping for him, and maybe he'll send them a fruit basket or something if he becomes the next president of the United States, but tonight, Obama will be rooting for Washington to beat the Steelers about as much as this kid is.
If you believe in history and strange, possibly-but-possibly-not-meaningless patterns, the most reliable predictor of presidential elections is the outcome of the Redskins' final home game before an election.
Yes, thanks to the research of the Elias Sports Bureau's Steve Hirdt, we learned in 2000 that when the Redskins would win their last home game before a presidential election, the incumbent party held on to control of the White House. When the Redskins lost their last home game before the election, the out-of-power party took over. Worked every time, all the way back to the franchise's first game in Washington in 1937.
Close to the Al Gore-George W. Bush debacle of 2000, Hirdt was searching for a politically-themed sports statistic. Using "the Redskins' press guide and knowledge of when Election Day is," he found the money stat and ran with it, introducing the Rule on Monday Night Football.
"My favorite thing about the Redskins Rule is that the Redskins aren't permanently assigned to a political party," Hirdt said in a telephone conversation last week. "They're shifting fortunes."
They're also a source of inner-conflict for those who are both Horny for Zorny and Hungry for Change. And Steelers-loving John McCain supporters (they've forgiven him for a certain perceived gaffe). And those elusive undecideds who have plenty of inner-conflict as it is.
"That's why we stay impartial," Hirdt said.
And that's probably smart, given the "shifting fortunes" deal. Of course, if you're what one would call a "real" sports fan, or if you're just a cynic like I am, you might be inclined to just shrug off all this nonsense and say, "Eh, coincidence. Go team." And -- let's get real -- the Redskins Rule is nothing if not a coincidence. It just happens to be 68 years' worth of coincidence, which transcends logic and ventures into the realm of Buckhantz-like improbability.
Plus, there's the other thing: "As it currently stands, the Redskins Rule has been a more reliable indication than the popular vote itself," Hirdt said.
It's true. The popular vote is 16-for-17 and the Redskins Rule is 17-for-17, if you're talking about "The 2.0 version," as Hirdt calls it. Oh, right. Forgot to mention that the Redskins Rule was amended after 2004's deciding game, when the Redskins lost to the Packers, 28-14, which meant that a John Kerry presidency was imminent.
Except, you know, not so much, because guess who's still in office?
"After that, we had to go back and see what the Redskins Rule really meant," Hirdt said. And so, as it were, he "re-stated" the Rule: If the Redskins win their last home game prior to a presidential election, then the party that won the popular vote in the previous election would win the White House, and vice versa. The popular vote went to Al Gore in 2000, and so the Rule made sense again; a perfect
But if there's any year to discredit the Redskins Rule, it might just be this one. If you believe the polls, Obama is heavily favored to win the election tomorrow. And if you're a Redskins fan, you're probably irrationally optimistic, so they have this one in the bag tonight.
And so what if that happens? A Redskins-Obama victory? Or on the flipside, a Steelers-McCain victory?
"Then the Rule would be 17-for-18. That's 94 percent," Hirdt said. "That's not bad."
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