Could the Ohio State and Wisconsin football teams decide the U.S. Presidential race?
It might sound crazy but according to a 2010 Stanford study titled “Irrelevant events affect voters’ evaluations of government performance,” researchers determined that football games occurring up to 10 days before Election Day have an impact on who the general population votes for.
The study compared local football scores in every election year from 1964 to 2008 to local election outcomes. A win for the local team “causes the incumbent to receive an additional 1.61 percentage points of the vote in Senate, gubernatorial, and presidential elections, with the effect being larger for teams with stronger fan support.”
Apparently, a win by the home team makes fans think all is OK in the world and a loss means it’s time for changes across the board.
Many political pundits have claimed that Mitt Romney will have to win either Wisconsin or Ohio in order to become President, and the Badgers lost a 16-13 overtime heart breaker to Michigan State last week. Wisconsin has a bye this week, but Barack Obama had better hope that bitter taste leaves the mouths of Badger fans by Election Day on Tuesday. Obama currently leads Romney in Wisconsin, 49%-46%, according to an NBC/WSJ/Marist poll released Wednesday.
Then there’s Ohio. The Buckeye State is the other key swing states (if not the key swing state) in this election; No Republican has even been elected President after losing the state of Ohio. Obama currently holds a 50%-45% edge over Romney, according to the same poll.
So if the Stanford study holds any weight, Romney would be wise to root hard for visiting Illinois (+24) to pull a shocking upset of the Buckeyes on Saturday afternoon. If Romney’s previously professed love for Michigan football is genuine, that shouldn’t be a problem.
A loss to the woeful Illini to ruin Ohio State’s undefeated season would certainly leave Buckeye fans in a state of shocking, and just maybe influence their vote based on the theory laid out above.
So if 2-6 Illinois pulls off a stunner on Saturday, followed by Romney winning the state of Ohio and the Presidential election, this Stanford study might not look so crazy after all.