Redskins rule 2012: Will Panthers win forecast presidential election?

Chip Somodevilla

We break down the "Redskins rule," and other rules that have coincided with previous presidential election results.

Sunday afternoon, the Washington Redskins dropped a tough 21-13 loss to the Carolina Panthers, damaging their flickering playoff hopes. While unlikely, it is possible at least one person from each of the two presidential campaigns was keeping an eye on the result of this game due to the "Redskins rule."

The "Redskins rule" was devised as a system in which the Redskins winning and losing before the presidential election resulted in one of the two candidates winning. Prior to 2004, the rule stated that when the Redskins won their final game before a presidential election, the incumbent party won the election, and when the Redskins lost their final game before the election, the challenging party won the election.

This rule was changed in 2004 following George W. Bush's victory over John Kerry. The Redskins lost to the Packers the week before the election, negating the rule. However, the person who first discovered the connection tweaked the rule to fit Bush's win. Instead of accounting for the incumbent party, the rule has been changed to state that the party that won the popular vote in the previous election would win the electoral college in the ensuing election. Bush lost the popular vote in 2000, so the Redskins' loss means he would win.

According to the rule as it stands, that would mean Mitt Romney is destined to win Tuesday's election. If he does claim the victory in what oddsmakers would consider a sizable upset, the "Redskins rule" would remain alive. The rule has been in place since 1940, and has proven fairly strong, albeit with the 2004 tweak.

If you would prefer an Obama win, you can always look towards the lesser-known LSU-Alabama rule. Since 1984, when Alabama beats LSU in an election year, the Democratic ticket wins. When LSU beats Alabama, the Republican wins.

If we want to get a little bit more ridiculous, MLB apparently released a press release stating that 67% of the time the National League has won the World Series, the Democratic ticket wins the White House. Also, eight of the last nine times the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten to the NBA Finals, the Republican ticket has won the White House. That streak was snapped with John McCain's loss in 2008.

Ttake your pick of ridiculous correlations and you can feel confident that one of these will pan out. Or, a third party wins the election and we continue to the Mayan-proclaimed end of the world next month.

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