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Obama Is Waving His Terrible Towel


Mike Tomlin and the Steelers pick up the Obama endorsement. (Reuters)


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.

They call it the Redskins Rule, and it looks like Obama is drinking the Kool-Aid. (And again.)

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 cop-out 17.

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."


Obama, Jerome Bettis, Franco Harris. Not Redskins fans. (Getty Images)

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  November 3, 2008; 10:48 AM ET
Categories:  NFL , Redskins , Weirdness  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   Del.icio.us   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Morning Look: A Zorny Halloween
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Comments

Go. Steelers.

Posted by: StetSportsBlog | November 3, 2008 11:02 AM | Report abuse

F the Squeelers and F McCain

oh yeah and f JLC

Posted by: jonthefisherman | November 3, 2008 11:14 AM | Report abuse

All I know is that work is going to cut into my tailgating time. And when that happens, it means the terrorists win.

Posted by: DCU_Rick | November 3, 2008 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for being smart enough to realize that changing the rule to be relevant to the popular vote is complete BS and is less scientific than looking at a transistor and calling it soup. If only Awful Announcing could understand that.

Posted by: MaxWass | November 3, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

The Skins rule is for retards to believe in, and now that its been debunked they are trying to figure out exceptions.

Posted by: alex35332 | November 3, 2008 11:30 AM | Report abuse

In the future, that steeler kid will need to switch to the slimming effect of the #7

Posted by: inchesfromyourface | November 3, 2008 11:38 AM | Report abuse

Agreed with earlier comments that if you have to keep amending the rule, it loses its claims to predictive power.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | November 3, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse

Ah, but do we forget that the Skins/Packers game was stolen from the Skins by an absolutely bogus illegal shift call on James Thrash as he was doing his best Art Monk imitation of picking up a blitz at the end of the line? Portis caught the pass and broke free to run in for what should have been the tying touchdown, but it was called back because Thrash turned to face the LOS right before the snap (even though he didn't move toward the LOS). The Skins had all of the momentum in that 4th quarter and even with time remaining, they had the Packers reeling. Instead, it was the Skins reeling after the negated TD and then an INT on the next play. The Packers were able to drive for a clinching TD after that.

Posted by: grounder | November 3, 2008 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Ah, but do we forget that the Skins/Packers game was stolen from the Skins by an absolutely bogus illegal shift call on James Thrash as he was doing his best Art Monk imitation of picking up a blitz at the end of the line? Portis caught the pass and broke free to run in for what should have been the tying touchdown, but it was called back because Thrash turned to face the LOS right before the snap (even though he didn't move toward the LOS). The Skins had all of the momentum in that 4th quarter and even with time remaining, they had the Packers reeling. Instead, it was the Skins reeling after the negated TD and then an INT on the next play.

Posted by: grounder | November 3, 2008 12:41 PM | Report abuse

DCU_Rick is right - I'd better leave work early.

Posted by: --sg | November 3, 2008 1:22 PM | Report abuse

THANK YOU GROUNDER! I have been saying that for four years, whenever anyone brings up the Redskins rule.

The Redskins DID win that game. That was one of the worst calls I've ever seen in all of sports. That ref was CLEARLY a Kerry supporter trying to curse ol' dubya.

I'm still FURIOUS about that call four years later. Thrash was set when that ball was snapped. No two ways about it. How the hell was he moving forward? The first step he took after the ball was snapped wasn't even forward it was backward.

AAHH! You got me all fired up now.

Either way, It's been nice to watch the Redskins Rule play out, but it's time has come to an end. Tonight: Redskins win, Tomorrow: Obama wins.

Posted by: redskins91 | November 3, 2008 1:32 PM | Report abuse

WOW. Its official Obama and I have 1 think we agree on. Go Steelers!

Posted by: amr2 | November 3, 2008 3:10 PM | Report abuse

Considering Obama is appearing in Manassas tonight at 9pm, I'm gonna go out on a limb and say he's not going to say he's for the Steelers. Not sure how he'll do it, but I believe that the Redskins fans in the audience will feel ok. Of course, if you consider yourself a fan, you better be DVRing the game AND watching it immediately when you get home.

Posted by: filmjoy | November 3, 2008 3:33 PM | Report abuse

Your writing leaves something to be desired. It is rather hard to follow and your unwieldy use of links makes it difficult to look at. When was the last time you broke a story or published some document or video that no one had seen before?

You have a tremendous opportunity to have a great blog like The Trail, and you are doing a lousy job. I only ever read your blog by accident. And every time I think this Dan Steinburg is really impressed with himself and his writing style. Again, which is terrible.

Get a clue and start making something out of this blog or you are going to get fired or re-assigned.

Posted by: Snakeheader | November 3, 2008 4:17 PM | Report abuse

How bout this election rule: The local paper covering the Redskins must treat each candidate fairly and not turn a blind eye to one candidate's admitted use of cocaine while putting a team of reporters to investigate the prescription drug addiction of the wife of the other candidate.

Posted by: Barno1 | November 3, 2008 4:26 PM | Report abuse

i'm an obama supporter, but ill trade the next 4 years for a win tonight, ha ha ha. GO SKINS!!!

Posted by: PERrUkio | November 3, 2008 4:34 PM | Report abuse

"Your writing leaves something to be desired."

Physician, heal thyself!

"You have a tremendous opportunity to have a great blog like The Trail,"

And yet you're reading the D.C. Sports Bog!

"and you are doing a lousy job. I only ever read your blog by accident. And every time I think this Dan Steinburg is really impressed with himself and his writing style. Again, which is terrible."

It's Bonita Appleblog who's impressed with her writing style in your estimation. It would normally be Dan Steinberg, not "Steinburg." And what is this "Again, which is terrible" - are you referring to the writing style itself, or to the fact that "Steinburg" is impressed with himself and his writing style?

Learn to write, troll.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | November 3, 2008 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I take it back. The Redskins Rule is great. It better work.

Posted by: Lindemann777 | November 4, 2008 8:47 AM | Report abuse

Looks to me like the predictor is still pretty damn accurate. Maybe even mystical magical predictors can get confused by Florida vote counts??!!!

Posted by: ultramanjones | November 4, 2008 1:45 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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