Tonight, while President Obama and Mitt Romney debate foreign policy, the deciding Game 7 of the National League Championship Series will pit the San Francisco Giants against the St. Louis Cardinals. If you want to know which candidate has the best chance of winning the White House, you might want to watch the baseball game — and root for the Cardinals if you’re a Romney fan, the Giants if you support Obama.
Because, apparently, the baseball gods like to dabble in politics every four years.
There have been 26 World Series played in presidential election years — every election year since 1908. In 22 of these years, one candidate won all the electoral votes of states represented by the World Series teams**. And that candidate has won the presidency in 20 of those 22 years.
That’s a 91 percent record in those 22 years, and 85 percent overall. (Yes, I know, — it’s still a pretty small sample. Work with me here.)
Need an illustration? Look no further than 2008, when the World Series contestants were the Philadelphia Phillies and the Tampa Bay Rays. Obama won both Pennsylvania and Florida — and the presidency.
This year’s American League champ has already been crowned: The Detroit Tigers await either the Cardinals or the Giants. Michigan is still classified as a toss-up state, but I’d be very surprised if Obama lost it. That means all rests on:
1. Missouri, which Romney appears to have sewn up; and
2. California, a mortal lock to be in Obama’s column.
So, if the Giants win tonight, Romney might as well pack it in. History would have us believe he’s toast — although it’s worth noting that the most recent exception to this rule was not too long ago. In 2000, Al Gore lost the election despite sweeping the World Series.
If the Cardinals win tonight and give us a likely presidential split decision, however, it’s either man’s race. In the four years in which the two candidates split the World Series states, the winning team’s state went for the White House winner twice and the White House loser twice. But take heart, Romney fans: There have been six presidential years in which Missouri had at least one team in the World Series, and the candidate who won Missouri won the White House in all six years. Michigan’s candidate, by comparison, is just 2-2.
So, how many newly minted Cardinals and Giants fans do we have out there?
– By Kyle Wingfield
** This includes six World Series (2000, 1988, 1956, 1952, 1944, 1936) in which both teams hailed from the same state. There were also two World Series in which only one state was represented. In 1992, the Toronto Blue Jays were one contestant; the Atlanta Braves were the other, and Bill Clinton won Georgia that year. In 1924, the Washington Senators were one participant but D.C. didn’t yet have any electoral votes; the New York Giants opposed them, and Calvin Coolidge won New York state.