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The Redskins Rule is a "spurious relationship[1] in which the results of "National Football League (NFL) games correlated strongly with the results of subsequent "United States presidential elections. Briefly stated, there was a high "correlation between the outcome of the last "Washington Redskins home football game prior to the U.S. presidential election and the outcome of the election: when the Redskins win, the party of the incumbent president retains the presidency; when the Redskins lose, the opposition party wins. This coincidence was noted by many sports and political commentators, used as a "bellwether to predict the results of elections, and held true in every election from 1940 through 2000. A variant of the Redskins Rule was contrived to maintain the correlation through the 2008 election (under the original formulation, it would have failed in 2004), after which it failed completely in the 2012 election, and later, the 2016 election.

## Contents

First, it's evident that several people have done careful work and been quite diligent in organizing and presenting this material in a way that works to educate and extend the reader's understanding of our natural world. I don't want to detract from that.

I have two comments. Perhaps more useful than labeling an observation as 'spurious' is to make the point that the value of an inference derived from an observation depends on it's utility with respect to predicting some aspect of the future. That's why we do statistics, after all.

Second, statistical science provides tools to measure the likelihood of an observation working at some future time. This is the major purpose of "Analysis of Variance" and t-statistics.

## History

The Redskins "relocated from "Boston, Massachusetts to "Washington, D.C. in "1937. Since then, there have been 19 presidential elections. In 17 of those, the following rule applied:

If the Redskins win their last "home game before the election, the party that won the previous election wins the next election and that if the Redskins lose, the challenging party's candidate wins.

The Redskins Rule was first noticed prior to the "2000 election by Steve Hirdt, executive vice president of the "Elias Sports Bureau.[2][3][4] That year, the Redskins would begin what would become a four-game losing streak with retrospect to the rule when they lost to the "Tennessee Titans. "George W. Bush defeated "Al Gore in the "Electoral College, but lost the popular vote. This would cause problems for the original version of the rule after the 2004 election.[4]

In "2004 election, the Redskins lost their last home game before the presidential election, indicating that the "incumbent should have lost. However, President "George W. Bush (the incumbent) went on to defeat "John Kerry. Steve Hirdt modified the rule, establishing Redskins Rule 2.0:[5]

When the popular vote winner does not win the election, the impact of the Redskins game on the subsequent presidential election gets flipped.

In the election in 2000, Al Gore won the popular vote while Bush won the electoral vote, and thereby the revised Redskins Rule was upheld for the 2004 election.

In the "2008 election, the Redskins lost to the "Pittsburgh Steelers, predicting a win for "U.S. Senator from "Illinois "Barack Obama over U.S. Senator from "Arizona "John McCain, because George W. Bush won the popular vote in the previous election.[6]

Prior to the "2012 election, the Redskins lost against the "Carolina Panthers on November 4. The Redskins Rule predicted an outright loss for incumbent "Barack Obama against challenger "Mitt Romney, or that Obama would lose the popular vote and still win the Electoral College.[7] However, incumbent Barack Obama won the election with 332 "electoral votes to Romney's 206,[8] held the advantage in the popular vote by more than 4.7 million votes, and the Redskins Rule did not hold in 2012.

In 2016, the Redskins played their last designated home game prior to the election on October 16, defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27–20. This outcome predicted a victory for Hillary Clinton of the Democratic Party, which was in power. Her loss to Republican challenger Donald Trump in the election meant that the Redskins Rule did not hold in 2016.

The rule typically does not count the team's time playing in Boston (1932–1936). The team competed as the Boston Braves in 1932 when they won 19–6 over the "Staten Island Stapletons. This game does not conform to the rule, as "Franklin D. Roosevelt defeated incumbent "Herbert Hoover in that "election. However, in 1936, the first election year the team competed under its current nickname, they defeated the "Chicago Cardinals and the incumbent Democratic president, Roosevelt, went on to win re-election.

## Results

Year Presidential Election
Result
Redskins
(Score)
Opponent
(Score)
Redskins
Win or Lose?
Incumbent Party
Win or Lose?
Rule
upheld?[Notes 1]
Popular
Vote Won
"2016 "Trump defeats "H. Clinton "Redskins 27 Philadelphia Eagles 20 wins loses yes* H. Clinton
"2012 "Obama defeats "Romney "Redskins 13 "Carolina Panthers 21 lose wins no Obama
"2008 "Obama defeats "McCain "Redskins 6 "Pittsburgh Steelers 23 lose loses yes Obama
"2004 "G. W. Bush defeats "Kerry "Redskins 14 "Green Bay Packers 28 lose wins yes* G. W. Bush
"2000 "G. W. Bush defeats "Gore "Redskins 21 "Tennessee Titans 27 lose loses yes Gore
"1996 "B. Clinton defeats "Dole "Redskins 31 "Indianapolis Colts 16 win wins yes B. Clinton
"1992 "B. Clinton defeats "G. H. W. Bush "Redskins 7 "New York Giants 24 lose loses yes B. Clinton
"1988 "G. H. W. Bush defeats "Dukakis "Redskins 27 "New Orleans Saints 24 win wins yes G. H. W. Bush
"1984 "Reagan defeats "Mondale "Redskins 27 "Atlanta Falcons 14 win wins yes Reagan
"1980 "Reagan defeats "Carter "Redskins 14 "Minnesota Vikings 39 lose loses yes Reagan
"1976 "Carter defeats "Ford "Redskins 7 "Dallas Cowboys 20 lose loses yes Carter
"1972 "Nixon defeats "McGovern "Redskins 24 "Dallas Cowboys 20 win wins yes Nixon
"1968 "Nixon defeats "Humphrey "Redskins 10 "New York Giants 13 lose loses yes Nixon
"1964 "L. B. Johnson defeats "Goldwater "Redskins 27 "Chicago Bears 20 win wins yes L. B. Johnson
"1960 "J. F. Kennedy defeats "Nixon "Redskins 10 "Cleveland Browns 31 lose loses yes J. F. Kennedy
"1956 "Eisenhower defeats "Stevenson II "Redskins 20 "Cleveland Browns 9 win wins yes Eisenhower
"1952 "Eisenhower defeats "Stevenson II "Redskins 23 "Pittsburgh Steelers 24 lose loses yes Eisenhower
"1948 "Truman defeats "Dewey "Redskins 59 "Boston Yanks 21 win wins yes Truman
"1944 "F. D. Roosevelt defeats "Dewey "Redskins 14 "Cleveland Rams 10 win wins yes F. D. Roosevelt
"1940 "F. D. Roosevelt defeats "Willkie "Redskins 37 "Pittsburgh Steelers 10 win wins yes F. D. Roosevelt
"1936 "F. D. Roosevelt defeats "Landon "Redskins 13[Notes 2] "Chicago Cardinals 10 win wins yes F. D. Roosevelt
"1932 "F. D. Roosevelt defeats "Hoover "Braves 19[Notes 3] "Staten Island Stapletons 6 win loses no F. D. Roosevelt

### Notes

1. ^ Upheld under revised rule
2. ^ Competed as the Boston Redskins
3. ^ Competed as the Boston Braves