Incumbent President Barack Obama might be a Chicago Bears fan, but in 2008 he had to be a Washington Redskins fan and he sure will be Sunday when the Redskins host the Carolina Panthers. On the flip side, Mitt Romney will be rooting strongly for the Panthers.

Why is that the case? Because in 17 of the 18 presidential elections since the Redskins moved to Washington in 1937, a Redskins win in their final home game before the election resulted in a win for the incumbent party. A Redskins loss resulted in a win for the challenging party.

In 2008, the Redskins lost to the Steelers. The only anomaly was in 2004 when the Redskins lost to the Packers, but incumbent George W. Bush defeated Sen. John Kerry.

Notably, Steve Hirdt of the Elias Sports Bureau and Director of Information for Monday Night Football has an explanation for that one game. It was Hirdt who discovered what he dubbed the “Redskins Rule” in 2000 when he was doing research prior to the Redskins’ final home game before the election, which was a Monday night game against the Tennessee Titans.

So, Steve, what is it about the 2004 election that actually falls in line? Said Hirdt, “I went back and studied the ‘Redskins Rule’ data and what happened in 2004 was explained in 2000. Because Al Gore actually won the popular vote in 2000, but lost in the Electoral College, it reversed the polarity of the subsequent election. The opposite of the usual ‘Redskins Rule’ was true.

“Redskins Rule 2.0 established that when the popular vote winner does not win the election, the impact of the Redskins game on the subsequent presidential election gets flipped. So, with that, the Redskins’ loss in 2004 signaled that the incumbent would remain in the White House.”

Whether anyone accepts Redskins Rule 2.0 as legitimate or not, the reality is that 17 of 18 is still phenomenal.

As Hirdt said, “Everybody likes coincidences and streaks, especially in the sports world. It’s been fun to talk about and I’m glad I found it.”

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