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03.02.2015 08:23
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How your NFL team can predict the next president

Every four years since 2000, 7 Eleven has conducted a coffee cup poll, with the sales of candidate branded coffee cups correctly predicting the actual winner in November three times in a row. Sales of Replica Handbags Halloween masks of the two major party candidates have predicted the next president since 1996, and the Scholastic News poll of students has been right 16 of the last 18 elections, going back to 1940.

We have a natural ability to find patterns even made up ones in the noise of the universe. People like the idea that one factor can encapsulate the thousands of data points that go into the real election. It all nonsense, of course. While we might expect something like coffee cups or mask sales to loosely align with the real outcome, the fact that these trends have a winning going is pure luck. In a crowded field of numbers, some events will randomly align with the results of the American presidential election (or the stock market, the planets, pistachio sales, whatever).

If the Washington Redskins win their last home game before the election, the incumbent party retains the White House. Otherwise, the out of power party wins.

This pattern has failed only once since 1940, though which year it failed is something of a debate on Wikipedia, depending whether one honors a retroactive change to the rule to recognize the winner of the popular vote.

To belabor the point that these rules are just coincidences, I concocted a rule for every NFL franchise. (Well, I exploited a computer to try every combination for me.) For example, Cheap Bags here is the Broncos Rule:

If Denver rushes for more than 106 yards in its fifth game of the season, the incumbent party wins. Otherwise, the out of power party wins.

This rule has held for every election since the Denver Broncos first season in 1960, when the Broncos ran for 104 yards on 22 carries against the Los Angeles Chargers on Cheap Replica Handbags Oct. 16, dooming Richard Nixon and turning the White House over to the Democrats.

Here is the Patriots Rule, true Wholesale Replica Handbags for 12 of the past 13 elections:

If New England commits fewer turnovers than its opponent in the team first away game, the out of power party will win the White House. Otherwise, the incumbent party wins.

When I presented my findings to Steve Hirdt, the Elias Sports Bureau executive who discovered the Redskins Rule in 2000, he wasn impressed.

His rule, he pointed out, uses only "the simplest of statistics and involves the team you would want it to involve" that is, Washington team. It also occurs right before the election.

For a team that been around since 1960, the odds of any statistic matching up every four years with the Discount Bags election results is only 1 in 4,096. That 12 coin flips in a row all landing on heads. (There have been 13 elections since 1960, but the first year is a freebie because it establishes the trend.) To find a rule for every franchise, I had to start concocting absurd combinations of game statistics, giving way to rules like the 49ers Rule:

If San Francisco scores at least 1.5 points for every completion in its third home game of the season, the Democrat wins. Otherwise, the Republican wins.

The odds of the Redskins Rule being true 17 out of 18 times, if you figure there an average of a Discount Handbags 50 50 chance that either candidate wins over time, are about 1 in 14,500.

But it is impossible that there is any actual connection between the Redskins and national politics. Right?

Unless you have a persuasive theory for why the Redskins Rule is nonrandom and I love to hear it we have to conclude that we are very lucky to live in a universe where the odds of so simple a rule working out came true. In the meantime, here are the less elegant rules for every other franchise. The 49ers scored only 3 points on 23 completions against the Giants on Oct. 14

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