Earlier today my girlfriend asked me if I knew of "the Redskins Rule." It took a moment to recall the details, but eventually my mind, slowed by disuse and daylight savings, remembered the rule, only to then pair this information with Washington's loss to the Carolina Panthers an hour or so earlier.
The Washington Post's Mike Jones demonstrated on Saturday that "the Redskins Rule" for Presidential Elections, much like the infamous Madden Curse, is not to be taken lightly. All save for one election, the Bush-Kerry race of 2004—coincidentally the first where I was able to have my vote counted—has fallen in line with this phenomenon: "When the Redskins win their game before the election, the incumbent party wins the presidential vote. If the Redskins lose, the non-incumbent wins."
While Mittens Romney may not be known as a sports gambler (I've yet to corroborate reports from certain shady Vegas sportsbooks or to ascertain whether he is indeed still a Patriots fan or if he shed that along with Romneycare and his Independent status), I'm sure his attention was on the game's outcome today, even if only out of amused curiosity. I wonder what he said to a nearby advisor upon learning of the Redskins' loss. Maybe he took this to be a glimmer of hope in a tight race that's still within the margin of error. Perhaps, like me, he was unsure how to decode this message. While Hunter S. Thompson certainly saw the connection between Pro Football and politics (see: Hey Rube), this line of thinking is not for everyone. And yet, logic and rationality aside, eighteen of the last nineteen Presidential Elections have been correctly predicted by the outcome of these games. It may be reading tea leaves or finding a message enmeshed in the overhead formation of southbound Canada geese, but, to borrow from the advertising staff currently assigned to sell even more Bud Light to the American populace, "It's only weird if it doesn't work."
There is also another way to look at the Carolina-Washington matchup: Cam Newton is in his second season, trying to impress upon his coach, teammates, sportscasters, sports journalists, fantasy league entusiasts, fans, etc., that he is, in fact, "the real deal," not just wisps of hype and luck gussied up in a Panther's uniform. Newton has had his fair share of issues—hell, his hometown paper accused him of being more Hello Kitty than Superman—and doubt has arisen over whether Cam is an effective leader of the franchise. Granted, no one is calling for Newton's head on a platter (not yet, but this is Pro Football, and those who can't win eventually get labeled losers), and I would put a healthy amount of money on the fact that RGIII is more popular with Redskins fans than Mittens is with the Grand Old Party, but I stand by the comparison, if perhaps hopefully and naively. What I take away from today (after reorganizing certain facts in order to manufacture this outcome) is that even the most inspiring young quarterback and leader in recent memory couldn't best last season's Rookie of the Year, not even in this crazy season, one where we've already seen the Seahawks gifted a winning touchdown against the Packers, and the Atlanta Falcons, of all teams, are the lone unbeaten force in Pro Football.
Once all the votes are counted up—and some are already concerned that this election is as close, and will perhaps take as long to clear up, as the 2000 fiasco—we'll see if "the Redskins Rule" maintains its near-perfect record, and whether RGIII and the Redskins will take more than just the sting of a 3-6 season into the Bye Week.