The Redskins have been a professional football team since 1933, when the Boston Braves changed their name to the Boston Redskins. In 1936, the Redskins played their first game during an election year. It's likely no one noticed at the time, but the squad's performance in its last home game before Election Day soon became arguably the best indicator of who would win the presidential race. A Redskins win meant the incumbent party would stay put. A Redskins loss meant the White House would change parties. With only one exception — 2004 — this trend has held in every election cycle.
So, tune in Sunday to see who will win Tuesday. Then impress all your not-in-the-know friends with your prognosticating prowess. The Skins are 3.5 point favorites, so President Obama has got to like his chances.
Result: In 1936, the squad was the Boston Redskins, but the team's 13-10 win over the Chicago Cardinals — now in Arizona — set the precedent for the correlation between the outcome of the Redskins' last home game and the outcome of the presidential election. President Roosevelt, a Democrat, won his first reelection over Republican Alf Landon two days after the game.
Result: The now-Washington Redskins ran their record to 7-0 with a dominating win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Redskins' lopsided win matched Roosevelt's 449-82 electoral college slaughter of GOP opponent Wendell Willkie.
Result: The Redskins superior aerial attack took out the Cleveland Rams in 1944. Two long touchdown passes were enough to overcome the Rams' running game. Two days later, President Roosevelt defeated Republican Thomas Dewey, carrying 36 states.
Result: 1948 is considered the biggest upset in presidential-election history. Polls showed that Democratic President Harry Truman would lose to Thomas Dewey, making his second straight run. The Chicago Tribune ran the famous "Dewey Defeats Truman" headline. But the paper should have checked the Redskins' score from Oct. 31. The team had drubbed the Boston Yanks.
Result: The Redskins had a bad game two days before Election Day. Despite scoring 16 fourth-quarter points, Washington dropped a 1-point decision to the Pittsburgh Steelers. It was part of what turned into a six-game losing streak. So, of course, the Democrats were destined for failure. The GOP's Dwight Eisenhower easily took down Democrat Adlai Stevenson, winning 442 electoral votes.
Result: After losing their first three games of the season, the Redskins scored a win over the Cleveland Browns on Oct. 21. That was good news for President Eisenhower, who won his rematch with Adlai Stevenson, tallying even more electoral votes, 457.
Result: The 1960 Redskins were horrible, winning only one game. Unfortunately for GOP presidential nominee Richard Nixon, the win wasn't in the team's last home game before Election Day. The squad was drubbed by the Cleveland Browns a few days before Democrat John F. Kennedy won the election by 84 electoral votes (although he won the popular vote by only 0.2 percent).
Result: Four passing touchdowns felled the Chicago Bears in a pass-heavy game between two mediocre teams on Oct. 25, 1964. As you might expect, Democratic President Lyndon Johnson took down Republican challenger Barry Goldwater in the sixth-most-lopsided presidential election in history, winning 61.1 percent of the popular vote.
Result: A late touchdown by the New York Giants propelled the team past the Redskins on Oct. 27, 1968, a bad sign for Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey, running to succeed President Johnson, who had chosen not to seek reelection. Sure enough, the White House switched parties nine days later, as Republican Richard Nixon won an election year marked by riots during the Democratic National Convention and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy.
Result: The Redskins had a good year in 1972 and so did President Nixon. The Redskins' victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 22 was just one of many on the team's path to the Super Bowl, where it lost to the undefeated Miami Dolphins, 14-7. Nixon ran up the score against Democratic opponent George McGovern, winning 520 electoral votes and carrying all but one state.
Result: After college, President Ford had turned down two professional football scholarships to attend law school instead. The Redskins could have used his help on Oct. 31, as the team dropped a decisive game to the Dallas Cowboys. Ford, a Republican, couldn't help himself politically, either; he lost the election to Democratic challenger Jimmy Carter by 57 electoral votes two days later.
Result: The Redskins were clobbered almost as badly on Nov. 2, 1980, as President Carter was two days later. The Minnesota Vikings led wire to wire in the lopsided victory. Republican challenger Ronald Reagan cruised to the White House, carrying 44 states.
Result: In their first home game on the Monday night before Election Day, the Redskins handled the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 5, 1984. President Reagan handled Democratic challenger Walter Mondale even more easily the next day, however. Reagan became the second president to carry 49 states and 58.8 percent of the popular vote.
Result: With a 7-9 record, the Redskins were not having one of their better seasons. But the team did manage to pull out a commanding 33-17 victory over the Phoenix Cardinals on Oct. 16, 1988, on the strength of four passing touchdowns. A few weeks later, Republican George H.W. Bush, running to succeed Reagan, drubbed Democrat Michael Dukakis. Bush tallied 426 electoral votes and got 53.4 percent of the popular vote.
Result: The Redskins were decent in 1992, finishing 9-7 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs. But Nov. 1 was not their day, and 1992 was not President Bush's year. The 7 points the Redskins scored was their second-lowest output of the year. Bush's 168 electoral votes were far less than the 426 he had won in 1988. Democrat Bill Clinton claimed the victory.
Result: With their commanding win over the Indianapolis Colts on Oct. 27, 1996, the Redskins stood at 7-1. But the team bottomed out after that, finished 9-7, and missed the playoffs. President Clinton should have been pleased at the victory, though. It predicted his comfortable win over Republican challenger Bob Dole. Although Clinton didn't get 50 percent of the popular vote, he ran away with 379 electoral votes.
Result: Democrat Al Gore, running to succeed Clinton, should have known not to root for his hometown Tennessee Titans on Oct. 30, 2000. He got his first wish, a Titans victory, but would have presumably rather had his second wish, an Election Day win. Of course, Gore did win the popular balloting, by just over 500,000 votes. But he lost to Republican George W. Bush where it mattered, in the Electoral College, by the slimmest of margins — 271 to 266.
Result: Democrat John Kerry, challenging President Bush, must have thought he had this one in the bag after the Redskins rolled over in a loss to the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 31, 2004. But for the first time since the Redskins first season, in 1932, the team's last home game before Election Day did not hold predictive powers. Although the race was close — Bush got 286 electoral votes to Kerry's 251 — it called into question the best political prognosticating tool the country had.
Result: The Redskins were back to their predictive prowess in 2008. On Nov. 3, the night before Election Day, the team was eviscerated by the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers went on to win the Super Bowl that year, and Democrat Barack Obama went on to defeat John McCain and win the White House, ending the eight-year Republican reign. Obama took home 365 electoral votes and 52.9 percent of the popular vote.
Result: The New York Times' Nate Silver gives President Obama an 86.3 percent chance of winning on Election Day. He must not have checked the box score from Sunday's Redskins game. The team's quarterback, Robert Griffin III was sacked four times, and the offense couldn't muster a touch down until 1:28 left in the game. Mitt Romney reportedly tore up his concession speech when he saw the game's outcome.
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