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‘Redskins Rule’ Expanded: Obama Re-election Could Mean No Playoffs Through 2016

by David Elfin
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credit: (l) Rob Carr and (r) Justin Sullivan for Getty Images

credit: (l) Rob Carr and (r) Justin Sullivan for Getty Images

David Elfin David Elfin
David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at...
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The entire world is watching today as more than 100 million Americans cast their votes in our quadrennial Presidential election. The contests between Democratic incumbent Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney is supposed to be such a cliffhanger that the winner might not be determined tonight.

However, CNN, Fox and all the pundits might as well forget all their projections and blather. The election was decided on Sunday when the Redskins lost 21-13 at home to the lowly Carolina Panthers.

In one of the oddest, only in Washington statistics, during the 18 previous elections since the Redskins left Boston for the seat of government in 1937, when they win their final home game before the election, the incumbent party retains the White House and when they lose, it’s time for the challenger to prepare for the transfer of power.

The only time that hasn’t held true was in 2004 when the Redskins fell to the Green Bay Packers in Landover but incumbent George W. Bush got by challenger John Kerry two days later.

Remember four years ago when the Redskins were on a 6-2 roll before playing host to Pittsburgh on “Monday Night Football” on the eve of the election between Obama and Republican John McCain? The Steelers rolled and so did Obama, taking back the White House for the Democrats.

What’s even weirder is the correlation between the Redskins making the playoffs or not and which party is in residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue N.W.

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The franchise played its first game just 37 days before Democratic challenger Franklin Delano Roosevelt defeated Republican incumbent Herbert Hoover in 1932. FDR remained President until he died in April 1945. The Redskins made the playoffs for the fifth time during their first nine seasons in Washington under his successor, Harry Truman, in 1945.

However, since then, other than 1999, when Norv Turner’s team won the NFC East with Bill Clinton in White House, Washington is winless with a Democratic President. That’s 30 playoff-less seasons, a total that figures to extend to 31 this year with the Redskins at 3-6 with Dallas (twice), Philadelphia (twice), Baltimore and the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants among their final seven opponents.

If that’s the case and Obama loses today, he would join John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter (who also didn’t get to appoint a Supreme Court Justice) as the only Presidents who didn’t get to enjoy a Redskins playoff season since the franchise came to town.

In contrast, Washington has reached postseason 15 times (1971, 1972 and 1973 – Richard Nixon; 1974 and 1976 – Gerald Ford; 1982, 1983, 1984, 1986 and 1987 – Ronald Reagan; 1990, 1991 and 1992 – George H.W. Bush; 2005 and 2007 – George W. Bush) during the last 36 autumns of Republican rule. The only GOP President who didn’t experience a Redskins playoff season was Dwight Eisenhower.

Given that history, Democratic Redskins fans are faced with a tough choice today. Vote for the candidate you believe is best for the country and your team is fated to remain out of the playoffs through 2016.

David Elfin began writing about sports when he was a junior at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School. He is Washington’s representative on the Pro Football Hall of Fame selection committee and the author of seven books, most recently, “Washington Redskins: The Complete Illustrated History.” A pre-game regular on 106.7-The Fan the last two Redskins seasons, he has been its columnist since last March. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidElfin

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