Thursday, October 28, 2004

Spooky stats

Retired Marine Col. Jack Pozza, a Vietnam veteran who grew up near Green Bay, Wis., and now lives in Virginia, has a dilemma: he’s a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers and supports President Bush for re-election. Wherein lies the problem.

The Marine knows there is a 100 percent correlation between the Washington Redskins’ win/loss record and the outcome of presidential contests dating back to 1940. If the Redskins win their last home game prior to Election Day, the party in power stays in power. Conversely, if the Redskins lose, the incumbent party is on the street.

Most recently, in 2000, it was the Tennessee Titans 27, Redskins 21: Mr. Bush defeats Al Gore

In 1996: Redskins 31, Indianapolis Colts 16: Bill Clinton defeats Bob Dole

In 1992: New York Giants 24, Redskins 7: Mr. Clinton defeats George H.W. Bush

In 1988: Redskins 27, New Orleans Saints 24: Mr. Bush defeats Michael Dukakis.

So, forget about the Electoral College, voting irregularities in Florida, and missing weapons in Iraq. The fate of the free world, says one observer, rides on the Redskins versus the Packers on Halloween night.

It’s animals, stupid

Harry Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”

It might behoove John Kerry, if he can rent a pasture, to get a cow.

“An interesting pattern emerged when we researched our book,” says Peter Barnes, former Washington bureau chief of Hearst-Argyle Television, and last seen on CNBC. “We noticed that in the majority of cases in presidential contests from 1900 to 2000, the candidate with the most pets won the election.”

Mr. Barnes, also a Wall Street Journal veteran, and his wife, Cheryl, are accomplished children’s book authors (she illustrated the 2002 White House Children’s Christmas Program). In researching their new book, “President Adams’ Alligator and Other White House Pets,” they discovered that Mr. Bush should easily win re-election simply because he has more pets than his opponent.

Mr. Bush has three pets — Barney, the irascible Scottish terrier; India, a cat; and Ofelia, a black-spotted longhorn cow that lives at the president’s ranch in Texas. Mr. Kerry has two pets — a German shepherd named Cym and a yellow parakeet.

Consider that in 1904, Teddy Roosevelt had 34 pets while his opponent, Alton B. Parker, had one, a dog. In 1920, Warren G. Harding had four pets — two dogs and two birds — while his rival, James M. Cox, had one dog, Tom. In 1932, Herbert Hoover had 10 pets, but Franklin D. Roosevelt had 11 and ended up winning the White House.

Mr. Roosevelt, in fact, won three additional elections against opponents who had one pet or none at all. Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had nine pets, beat Adlai Stevenson, who had one dog, twice. In 1960, John F. Kennedy had 29 pets, Richard Nixon had one; later, Mr. Nixon acquired four pets before running against Hubert H. Humphrey, who had one dog (1968) and George McGovern, who also had one dog (1972). Ronald Reagan had six pets when he beat Jimmy Carter, who had two, in 1980.

“Pet owners are a big voting block,” Mr. Barnes explains. “More than a third of all U.S. households have pets. It’s no wonder that many candidates have pets, to show voters that they love animals.”

Blanchard Street

The mood of this divided nation going into Tuesday’s presidential election is no better reflected than in this official White House pool report of President Bush’s campaign stop in Findlay, Ohio:

“[W]here the citizens stood among falling leaves and front-yard pumpkins on South Blanchard Street either cheering or jeering at the president’s motorcade as it zoomed past. [We] spotted a giant inflatable rat with a large ‘W’ with a cross-out red line through it; a person with the rat flipped the motorcade a double-fisted obscene gesture.

“One sign along the way said ‘Vote No 4 Bush;’ another said ‘Go Bush, Our Daughter is Deployed Tomorrow.’ ”

• John McCaslin, whose column is nationally syndicated, can be reached at 202/636-3284 or

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