This is a drag. Tyler Cowen draws my attention to a study that suggests a home team win by a local college football team shortly before an election boosts the vote for an incumbent president. The biggest effect, oddly enough, is for the game ten days before the election, not the game right before the election. A win this weekend could boost the local vote for the incumbent by a stunning 2.59 percentage points.
Right away, I’m going to say I don’t believe this. It’s just too big an effect. But you can’t be too careful, can you? And that sets up some conflicts. My USC Trojans, for example, are playing Arizona this weekend, and a USC win would have no effect. Who cares if Obama gooses his winning percentage in California by a point or two? A win by the Wildcats, however, might just put Arizona over the top for Obama.
Or how about Penn State vs. Ohio State? I have some residual loyalty to Penn State because my father taught there for a year and my sister was born there. What’s more, as a Pac-12 guy, hating Ohio State is bred into my genes. But Pennsylvania isn’t in play. Ohio is, and if an Ohio State win gives Obama an extra point or two in the Buckeye State, that could determine who wins the election.
Luckily, Ohio State is a big favorite, so it probably doesn’t matter. Nonetheless, for the first time in my life, I might just be rooting for them.