Those who are pulling for the Washington Redskins against the Panthers on Sunday and backing Mitt Romney in the presidential election on Tuesday face an interesting dilemma. A Redskins win would not bode well for those who want to see the electoral maps bathed in red on Tuesday night.
It’s called the Redskins Rule. Since the Redskins moved to Washington in 1937, the result of the last Redskins home game before a presidential election has been a nearly rock-solid predictor of which political party would win the presidential election. From 1940 through 2000 things fell into line perfectly. If the Redskins won that last home game prior to Election Day, the party that held the White House won the election. If the Skins dropped that game, the other party started to measure for drapes in the West Wing.
Things went awry in 2004, when the Redskins lost their last home game prior to the election to the Packers. Two days later, incumbent president George W. Bush held on to beat John Kerry.
Four years later the phenomenon fell back into place. The Steelers beat the Redskins 23-6 on Monday. On Tuesday, Barack Obama easily carried Pennsylvania and its 23 electoral votes and won 342 more to beat John McCain and take the White House back from the GOP.
So, those who bleed Burgundy and Gold who want to see Obama remain president might be rooting extra hard for the Redskins to take down the Panthers on Sunday. It's unlikely that any Romney backers who normally are Skins fans will be changing their allegiance and pulling for Cam Newton and company. But perhaps there will be some small solace in the land of the elephants should the Redskins lose.
For the record, here are the details of the "streak" from 1940 through 2000:
1940—Frankie Filchock and Sammy Baugh teamed up to go 14 for 15 passing to lead the Redskins over the Pittsburgh Steelers 37-10. Two days later President Franklin D. Roosevelt (D) easily defeated Wendell Willkie 449 electoral votes to 82.
1944—Washington was outgained by the Cleveland Rams 407 yards to 197 but the Redskins scored two TD's in a four-play span in the second quarter to pull out a 14-10 win. FDR's win was not as close as he outgained Thomas Dewey 53% to 45% in the popular vote and outscored him 432-99 in the stat that counts, the Electoral College.
1948—The game was close in the early going, but a 14-14 tie at the end of the first quarter ended in a 59-21 Redskins win over the Boston Yanks. The election was much closer and Dewey didn't defeat incumbent Harry Truman (D) much to the chagrin of the Chicago Tribune and others as the incumbent won 303-189.
1952—Washington's attempted fourth quarter rally fell a point short at the Steelers won 24-23. Adali Stevenson didn't show nearly as much game, trailing Republican Dwight Eisenhower all the way in a 442-89 loss.
1956—This was the first time that the Redskins didn't have a home game on the Sunday immediately preceding the general election. Sixteen days before election day Eddie LeBaron led the Redskins past the Browns 20-9. Ike beat Stevenson in the rematch by over 9 million popular votes and an electoral count of 457-73.
1960—The first of 17 consecutive losses over two seasons for coach Mike Nixon's Redskins came at the hands of Cleveland 31-10. The loser for the GOP was another Nixon, Richard, by a much closer margin to John F. Kennedy, 303-219. That set off something of a losing streak for Richard Nixon but he would rebound later on.
1964—Sonny Jurgensen's fourth touchdown pass of the day went to tight end Pres Carpenter with a minute left to play as the Redskin s pulled out a 27-20 win over the Bears. Lyndon Johnson didn't have to sweat out his win over Barry Goldwater nearly as much with an electoral tally of 486-52.
1968—Jurgensen had one of his worst days as a pro, going 7 for 25 passing but Washington hung close and nearly rallied before losing to the Giants 13-10. Dick Nixon's comeback, on the other hand, was a success as he beat Vice President Hubert Humphrey 301-191 in a contest that was much closer than the final score indicated.
1972—Finally, a significant game to talk about. Larry Brown had one his greatest days as a Redskin as Washington rallied to beat Dallas 24-20. Nixon, who had suggested plays to coach George Allen the previous season, rode to coattails of the Redskins win to a 520-17 trashing of George McGovern.
1976—Pete Wysocki, out of Michigan, was blocking as Eddie Brown returned a punt for Washington's only score in a 20-7 loss to Washington. Another former Wolverine football player, Gerald Ford, who finished up for Nixon after his term concluded before the end of regulation, also lost. Jimmy Carter won 297-240.
1980—The Redskins started a five-game losing streak that knocked them out of playoff contention by falling to the Vikings 39-14. The Republicans launched a three-election winning streak for the White House with the Gipper, Ronald Reagan, routing Carter 489-89.
1984—In a Monday night game that ended as Election Day was dawning, the defending NFC champion Redskins prevailed over Atlanta 27-14. Reagan had a much easier time with Fritz Mondale, defending his office by a score of 525-13.
1988—Politicians are infamous for using dirty tricks to win elections and Dexter Manley pulled one off to help his Redskins win. The Saints were in position to kick a game-clinching field goal, but their tackle Jim Dombrowski took a swing at Manley and the ensuing 15-yard penalty put the kick out of Morten Anderson's range. It turns out that Manley had spit (he says he "sneezed", but we know better) in Dombrowski's face to provoke the punch and the Skins won 27-24. Some would say that the Willie Horton ads were the political equivalent of Dexter's expectoration as it helped George H. W. Bush roll up a 426-111 win over Michael Dukakis.
1992—The New York Giants had possession for nearly 40 minutes and ground out a 24-7 win over Washington. The Redskins, the incumbent Super Bowl champs were on their way out as was President Bush the elder. Bill Clinton won as convincingly as the Giants had 370-168.
1996—The Redskins ran their record to 7-1 with a 31-16 win over the Colts. The early returns from the season had them projected as the winner of a playoff spot but they would later collapse and finish out of the money. Clinton also won easily over Bob Dole, 379-159. He would encounter some rough sledding later on, too.
2000—The Tennessee Titans built up an early lead and held off the Redskins for a 27-21 win. Tennessean Al Gore rallied from behind and took George W. Bush into overtime before losing by one fewer than the Redskins did, 271-266.