Baseball's Colors Point to a Kerry Win
By Sam Stovall
For a number of years, we at Standard & Poor's have tracked the Super Bowl Theory, which is a nonserious way for investors to divine the full-year performance for the stock market based on the outcome of pro football's Super Bowl (see BW Online, 1/26/04, "Would a Panthers' Win Boost the Bull?"). Well, now it's baseball's turn.
Only this time, instead of the stock market, we decided to see if the outcome of the sport's marquee event, the World Series, had any predictive value when it came to another great American pastime: politics. Specifically, could the uniform color of the winner of the Fall Classic help identify the likely victor of the upcoming Presidential election?
The answer is yes -- if you're willing to accept correlation without causation, and you expect history to repeat itself. And of course, one other well-worn qualifier is in order: Past performance isn't indicative of future results!
Take a look at the table below, which focuses on the dominant uniform color of the team that won the World Series during each Presidential election year since 1908, the first year that had both events. Most teams have had either blue or red as their primary color. (The Oakland Athletics, Pittsburgh Pirates, and Washington Senators didn't, and weren't counted.)
Using the widely adopted color scheme of red for Republicans and blue for Democrats -- check out any electoral map on TV or in magazines -- how successful was the winning uniform color in signaling the victorious party?
As this table indicates, if you had wagered that the Democratic contender would be victorious each year a blue-uniformed team won the World Series, your batting average would have been only .286. You would have been wrong more than 7 times out of every 10. A post-season batting average like that won't get you into the Hall of Fame.
So does this mean the colors are of no use in selecting the next President? Not at all. In fact, they would have been very helpful if you had used uniform colors as a contrary indicator.
What does that mean for 2004? Since the dominant color for both the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals is red, this highly unscientific study implies a 7 in 10 chance that the Democratic contender will win this election, no matter who wins the World Series. And that means John Kerry should celebrate the outcome of the series -- even if his hometown Red Sox succumb once more to the "Curse of the Bambino."
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Past performance is not indicative of future results.
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Stovall is chief investment strategist for Standard & Poor's