Fact Check

Red Sox Victories Predict Election

Do World Series victories by the Boston Red Sox predict the outcome of presidential elections?

Published Aug 31, 2007

Joke:   World Series victories by the Boston Red Sox predict defeat for incumbents in presidential elections.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, 2004]

I'm not one for omens, but every time the Red Sox have won a World Series in the year of a Presidential Election, the incumbent has been defeated.

Don't believe me? Check out this list:

Year Red Sox won World Series President Was the President Re-elected?
1912 William H Taft No

I think the figures speak for themselves...

Origins:   Our tendency to find patterns wherever we can has

Red Sox

led to a number of claims that the outcome of events such as presidential elections is foreshadowed by completely unrelated phenomena. Although some such claims are made with at least a little touch of seriousness (such as the notion that the outcome of Washington Redskins football games are predictive of U.S. presidential election results), this item is pure humor, a little jab poking fun at the Boston Red Sox' long record of futility in winning baseball's World Series. (Until their October 2004 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, the Red Sox had not captured a championship since 1918 — an 86-year-long drought attributed in modern times to the "Curse of the Bambino," a supposed hex on the team for having sold slugger Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees after the 1919 season.)

The joke here, of course, is that the Red Sox have been World Series victors so infrequently in the last several decades that only once has a Red Sox championship coincided with a presidential election, and one has to go back 92 years (to 1912) to find that single instance. Even as humor this is flawed history, though: the Boston Red Sox also won the World Series in the election year of 1916, and the following month (contrary to the supposed "pattern" of Red Sox victories spelling defeats for incumbents) President Woodrow Wilson was re-elected.

The day after Boston's victory in the 2004 World Series, Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the 2004 Democratic nominee for president, starting riffing on the long wait between Red Sox championships:

Wearing a Red Sox cap and reveling in the team's World Series championship after an 86-year drought, Kerry saw a metaphor for his own White House bid.

"About a year ago, when things weren't going so well in my campaign, somebody called a radio talk show and they said, thinking they were just cutting me right to the quick, they said 'John Kerry won't be the president until the Red Sox win.' Well, we're on our way."

Last updated:   28 October 2004


  Sources Sources:

      Reuters.   "Kerry Uses Bush's Own Words to Call Him Unfit."

    28 October 2004.

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.

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