AFTER THE All-Star Game break next week, fans will start getting really serious about their baseball.
What's this have to do with politics, which is what this column is supposed to be about? In eight of the past 10 presidential elections, you could predict the winner by who won the World Series. (The All-Star Game itself is not a good predictor.)
In 1960, 1964 and 1976, a National League team won the series, and Democrats John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Jimmy Carter won the White House. In 1952, 1956, 1968, 1972 and 1984, the American League team won the series and Republicans Dwight Eisenhower, Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan were elected.
Only in 1980 and 1988, when the National League won the series but Republicans Reagan and Bush were elected, did this predictor fail.
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But who wants to wait till mid-October to know who's going to be elected president? No one, and fortunately, you don't have to. Baseball has an even better predictor.
It's bad news for Bill Clinton, who roots, roots, roots for the Arkansas Travelers of the class AA Texas League. Americans haven't elected a president from a bush league state in 64 years. That was when Herbert Hoover of California defeated Al Smith of New York, long before the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants moved to Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Let's look at the record:
In 1932, 1936, 1940 and 1944, Franklin D. Roosevelt of New York (Dodgers, Giants, Yankees) was elected president. In 1948, Harry Truman of Missouri (Cardinals, Browns). In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower of New York. In 1956, Ike, who had acquired a Gettysburg address (Phillies, Pirates).
In 1960, John F. Kennedy of Massachusetts (Red Sox). In 1964, Lyndon Johnson of Texas (Astros). In 1968, Richard Nixon, then of New York, (Yankees, Mets). In 1972, Nixon official residence now in California (Oakland, San Francisco, L.A., Anaheim).
In 1976, Jimmy Carter of Georgia (Braves). In 1980 and 1984, Ronald Reagan of California (Nixon's '72 lineup plus San Diego). And in 1988, George Bush of Texas (Astros plus the Rangers).
It is interesting that Hoover lost when he ran for re-election. So did one of the only two other winning presidential nominees from a non-major league state in the history of the National Pastime. That was Benjamin Harrison of Indiana, who won in 1888 but lost in 1892.
The only bush league candidate to be elected twice was Woodrow Wilson, 1912 and 1916.
Overall since 1876, when organized baseball began, the major parties have nominated minor league presidential candidates 14 times and lost 10 of those times. Some of the biggest losers in presidential history were from bush league states: George McGovern! Barry Goldwater! Alf Landon! William Jennings Bryan!!!