There's really not much news in the fact that voters take unrelated events into account when they cast their ballots in November, but researchers have found at least one thing that does have an impact on voting habits: How the local football team is doing.â†µ
The new study looked at elections for president, governor and senate between 1964 and 2008 and compared them to football results for 62 major college teams. The researchers found that wins in the two weeks before an election boosted the vote share of incumbents in the county where a school is located by 1.05 to 1.47 percentage points -- enough to make a difference in a close race.â†µ
And for teams they termed "powerhouses" the impact was even greater, giving the incumbents between 2.30 and 2.42 percentage points more than in years when the local team lost. Powerhouses were defined as teams that had won a national football championship since 1964, or were among the teams with average attendance of 70,000 or more from 1998 to 2008.â†µ
Oddly enough, there aren't a lot of very difficult 1-2 punches in the two weeks before this year's election. But politicians near Minneapolis-St. Paul might want to be careful; Minnesota is set to play Penn State and Ohio State, expected to be two of the better teams in the Big Ten this year.