- S.C. hospital worker slapped with $525 federal fine for refilling $0.89 soda
- Teen from ‘Jihad Jane’ plot becomes youngest ever to serve time on U.S. terror charges
- Iranian woman forgives son’s killer at the gallows
- Nebraska principal sorry for ‘don’t tattle’ flier
- Illinois readies to spend $100M for Obama museum in Chicago
- John Edwards back in court — this time as a lawyer for Va. boy’s malpractice case
- Covered California reports more than 200K in overtime Obamacare sign-ups
- Thanks, Chuck: Hagel says U.S. sending Ukraine sleeping mats, helmets
- HUMPRHIES: The Liberal Bully of the Week is …
- Secret Service threatened to kill Mr. Met if he got close to Clinton, mascot claims
Football, weather and shark attacks — the irrational voter’s checklist
Forget the speeches and sound bites, the gaffes and ground games, the pundits and polls, the sound and fury emanating from cable news like white-hot plasma from a thousand suns. After an interminable slog of a campaign season, the presidential election could be decided by … the outcomes of a few college football games.
Fact: With the American electorate equally divided between President Obama and Mitt Romney, the fate of the free world is expected to come down to a couple of dozen counties in a handful of swing states — places such as Franklin County, Ohio, home to Ohio State University.
Also fact: According to a study conducted by a trio of economists, home-team college football victories within a 10-day period before Election Day increase the countywide vote share for incumbent politicians by 1.6 percentage points to 3.35 percentage points.
The upshot? Ohio State’s last two football victories — over Penn State on Oct. 27 and Illinois on Saturday — could help Mr. Obama win.
“Our estimates would say that an Ohio State victory would benefit Obama,” said study co-author Neil Malhotra, an associate professor of political economy at Stanford University. “[New York City Mayor] John Lindsay completely attached himself to the 1969 Miracle Mets. People think that helped him. People think [French President] Jacques Chirac was helped by the French team winning the 1998 World Cup.”
As voters, we like to think of ourselves as, well, thoughtful. Careful. Essentially reasonable. Patriotic citizens making important ballot-box decisions based on issues, candidates and political arguments.
If a growing body of behavioral research is right, however, we may be flattering ourselves.
“[We have] an overly optimistic view of how sophisticated voters are,” said Michael Miller, a political scientist at Australian National University who has studied the effects of sports performance on elections. “People don’t decide their votes 100 percent based on meticulous analyses of performance and who should get credit. They often vote with their guts.
“Personal happiness and experience, often having nothing to do with politics, can affect how people vote. Even more interesting, this can happen without voters even being aware of it.”
Electoral college gameday?
Herein, a short list of utterly non-political things social scientists believe can unwittingly influence electoral choices:
• The physical weight and facial appearance of candidates;
• The type of building where votes are cast;
• The physical location of a candidate’s name on ballots;
• Droughts and flooding;
© Copyright 2014 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Patrick Hruby is an award-winning journalist who holds degrees from Georgetown and Northwestern. He also contributes to ESPN.com and The Atlantic Online, and his work has been featured in The Best American Sports Writing. Follow him on Twitter (@patrick_hruby) and contact him at PatrickHruby.net.
- Taking to Twitter: Everybody's Oscar night in 140 characters
- Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin cry foul at WWE Tea Party stereotypes
- Oscar Pistorius and the 'roid rage' defense: It's no Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card
- Spatial media: Astronaut Chris Hadfield live chats from 220 miles above earth
- Hero-worship for a cold-blooded killer: The cult of Christopher Dorner
TWT Video Picks
By John R. Bolton
Reality calls for attaching Gaza to Egypt and the West Bank to Jordan
- Joe Biden's first Instagram pic mocked as shill for sunglass ad
- Removal of military gear limits options for U.S., NATO in Ukraine
- 'Culture of intimidation' seen in Nevada ranch standoff
- John Edwards back in court this time as a lawyer for Va. boy's malpractice case
- Pentagon extends deployment of fighter jets to Poland
- BOLTON: A 'three-state solution' for Middle East peace
- Jews being told to register in Ukraine: John Kerry
- Cliven Bundy's Nevada ranch wrecked by retreating feds
- Rand and Ron Paul ride to the rescue for Bundy in Nevada standoff with feds
- Army goes to war with National Guard, seizes Apache attack helicopters
Top 10 handguns in the U.S.