Obama’s Fortunes Tied to Phillies’? (Updated!)
original version crossposted, with poll, as a diary at Daily Kos
“Cosmic” presidential election predictors, both sports-oriented and not, are often cited as elections approach. Depending on one’s candidate preference, these predictors serve either as reinforcement of or counterpoint to poll results.
The most famous sports-oriented predictor is based on the fortunes of the hometown pro football team for White House residents, the Washington Redskins. From the CBSNews.com article linked above:
If the Washington Redskins win their last home game before election, it means the incumbent party will get to stay in the White House.
This predictor’s long streak of accuracy, dating back to 1936, came to an end with the 2004 election.
I propose a one-time predictor for the pending election based on the results of baseball’s World Series — or as I annoyingly refer to it, the “world serious”. If this predictor turns out to be accurate, my pet name for baseball’s championship will be appropriate — or at least, less stupid.
With the resumption of World Series game 5 between the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays just an hour away, I suggest a Phillies championship, whether finalized in game 5, 6, or 7, would portend a Barack Obama victory.
The last time the Phillies won the World Series was 1980. Days after their final win over the Kansas City Royals in game 6, GOP candidate Ronald Reagan won a watershed election victory over the Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter. The country has been paying for it ever since. (I didn’t help matters by voting in that election for John Anderson, but what did I know, I was only 23 at the time and way more excited about my favorite team’s first ever World Series championship than I was about the election.)
Now throw in a dose of numerology: turn around the last two digits of 1980 and you get “08” — as in the current year, 2008. Coincidentally, the Phillies are back in the World Series and another watershed election is days away. Are you getting it? In ‘8-0 the Phillies championship was followed by Reagan’s victory. So in ‘0-8, a Phillies championship would mean victory for the opposite side, our side, Obama-Biden.
Notice how the arc of the series resembles the arc of the campaign. The series was even after the first two games. Then the Phillies, like Obama, started pulling away. The Phillies now lead three games to one; they need just one more win. Like McCain, the Rays have no room for error.
I wouldn’t want to count on this predictor, though. Philadelphia teams are notorious for blowing leads. As a fan of Philadelphia teams, I’m no stranger to heartache. And it’s been 25 years since a Philly team last won a major pro sports championship.
I look at it this way. If the Phillies take the series, I won’t get complacent. I remember 2000 and 2004 and I’ll remain nervous about the election, despite the multiplicity of Obama paths to 270 electoral votes, until the outcome is certain. If the Rays come back and prevail, I’ll get even a bit more nervous than I would otherwise be. In either case, the cure for nerves will be the GOTV work I’ll be doing Sunday and Monday and the work at the polls I’ll be doing on Election Day.
Go Phils! End this thing tonight!
UPDATE 10/30/08, 5:35 pm: Congratulations to the Phillies and their other fans! Mrs. QC hasn’t asked yet, but yes, I am happy now.
But anyway, Daily Kos commenter Montco PA Dem adds another level to my one-time election predictor: In the 1980 World Series, Tug McGraw (#45) threw the final pitch. Last night Brad Lidge (#54) threw the final pitch. As Montco PA Dem says, “think mirror image”. I’m liking this.