Presidential predictors: Beyond the Redskins rule

Whenever an event of importance happens in Italy, it is the fashion of some Romans to consult Professor Lelio Alberto Fabriani, the “Magician of Rome”, shown...
Whenever an event of importance happens in Italy, it is the fashion of some Romans to consult Professor Lelio Alberto Fabriani, the “Magician of Rome”, shown...
AP Photo/Mario Torrisi

Update: The Washington Redskins lost their home game on Sunday, which bodes well for Mitt Romney. However, the University of Alabma beat Louisiana State University, which bodes well for President Obama.

Forget the swing states, forget the polls, forget all of the political analysts. There’s a different way to predict the winner of the 2012 presidential race: sporting events. Find that hard to believe? All you have to do is take a look at the score card.

You may have heard of the “Redskins Rule.” There are two variations to this rule. The first one: if Washington D.C.’s football team wins their last home game prior to a presidential election, the incumbent party wins the election. This rule has accurately predicted all but one election since 1937. That’s 17 of 18 elections. The only year the “Redskins Rule” was wrong was in 2004 when the Redskins lost but President George W. Bush was reelected to the White House.

The second variation: if the Redskins win their last home game prior to election day, the party that won the popular vote in the previous election wins the White House. That makes variation number two 100% accurate.

Not to be out done, baseball has a rule too. NBC’s John Bailey found this correlation and we don’t think it’s been reported anywhere else. We’ll call it “Bailey’s Baseball Rule.”

Since the Great Depression, the home state of the World Series champion has accurately predicted the winner in every election but three. And if we look at the winner of the popular vote, then the World Series Champ has correctly predicted the winner in all but two elections. That’s a 90% accuracy rate or in baseball terms that’s batting 900.

Here’s how it works: in 2008 the Philadelphia Phillies won the World Series, Barack Obama carried Pennsylvania and went on to win the election. In 1996, the New York Yankees won the World Series, Bill Clinton carried New York and he won the election. In 1988 the LA Dodgers won, George H.W. Bush carried California, he won the election.

The list goes on, all the way back to Herbert Hoover. There are a few exceptions to the rule though. In 2004, the Boston Red Sox won the World Series, George W. Bush did not carry Massachusetts, but he did go on to win reelection. In 1968, the Detroit Tigers won the World Series, Richard Nixon did not carry Michigan, but he did go on to win the White House.

There are two tricky years in “Bailey’s Baseball Rule”, in 2000 the Yankees won, George W. Bush did not carry New York. Vice President Al Gore won the state. Although President Bush went on to win the White House, Al Gore did win the popular vote.

The other tricky year is 1992 when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series, making it impossible to apply the rule. You could argue that 1992’s hotly contest three way battle between Bill Clinton, George H.W. Bush and Ross Perot made for an odd election year anyway.

The “youngest” of the sports predictors could be the University of Alabama versus Louisiana State University football game.

The winner of that game has accurately predicted the winning party since 1984 and it works like this: if LSU wins the game, a Republican wins the White House, if Alabama wins the game, a Democrat wins the White House. We can probably guess which teams the Obama and Romney campaigns rooted for this weekend.

NBC’s John Bailey contributed to this post.