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article image'The Redskins Rule' failed to predict Obama re-election

By Arthur Weinreb     Nov 7, 2012 in Sports
For only the second time in 72 years, the last Washington Redskins home game prior to Tuesday's election failed to predict the winner of the presidential election. And the previous failure can be rationalized away by unusual circumstances.
The rule itself is quite straightforward. The score of the last home game played by Washington prior to Election Day is looked at. If the Redskins won, the incumbent president or the party holding the presidency prior to the vote will win the election. If Washington lost the game, the candidate of the party not currently occupying the White House will become president.
Since the team began playing in Washington in 1937, the rule has held up in 17 of the 19 presidential elections, beginning with Franklin Roosevelt's win in 1940. But it failed in 2012.
On Sunday, the Redskins were defeated by the Carolina Panthers, 21-13, and according to the rule, Mitt Romney should be president-elect of the United States. But as everyone knows, Barack Obama won a second term.
The only other election where the rule failed to predict the winner of the next presidential election was in 2004. In that year's game, the Green Bay Packers defeated Washington 28-14. Applying the rule, John Kerry should have won. But Steve Hirdt of Elias Sports Bureau, who was the first person to notice the strange correlation between the Washington games and presidential elections, has an explanation for what happened in 2004.
Hirdt is quoted by CBS Sports as saying, "I went back and studied the 'Redskin Rule' data and what happened in 2004 was explained in 2000. Because Al Gore actually won the popular vote in 2000—but lost in the Electoral College—it reversed the polarity of the subsequent elections. So, with that, the Redskins' loss in 2004 signaled that the incumbent would remain in the White House."
To Hirdt, predicting who will win the presidential election based upon the score of a football game is just plain fun. He is quoted by the Christian Post as saying, "Everybody likes coincidences and streaks, especially in the sports world. I'ts been fun to talk about and I'm glad I found it."
But does anyone take this seriously? Mike Fiorio seems to think so. Writing on NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk blog, Fiorio thinks the Redskins Rule should never, ever be mentioned. This is because "plenty of people with less than reasonable intelligence who watch networks like ESPN and possess the inalienable right to vote may decide not to vote because the outcome of the last Redskins home game has made their vote moot."
Either the streak is over or Hirdt will come up with Redskin Rule 3.0; no doubt that a Redskins loss means the challenger will win unless the incumbent is an African American.
More about redskins rule, Election 2012, Obama reelection, Washington redskins
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