Will Redskins game determine presidential winner?

Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III (10) celebrates with fans after a 76-yard touchdown run during the second half of an NFL football game against the Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012, in Landover, Md.
AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

It's no secret that President Barack Obama, a Chicago native, is a Bears fan and his presidential challenger Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, roots for the Patriots.

But when the Redskins host the Panthers on Sunday in D.C., the president may well be hoping Robert Griffin III has a big game and Romney might just be cheering for Cam Newton.

That's because the Skins' final home game before the November elections has become a reliable crystal ball for presidential elections.

The stat is probably coincidental yet pretty convincing: Since 1940, in 17 of 18 games in which the Redskins won their final home game before the election, the incumbent party has won the White House. When they lose, the challenger wins the presidency

According to ESPN, Steve Hirdt, the executive vice-president of Elias Sports Bureau, uncovered the so-called "Redskins Rule" in 2000 while doing research before a Monday Night Football game between the Skins and Titans.

The amazing trend started when FDR won reelection over Wendell Willkie in 1940 and lasted until George W. Bush defeated Al Gore in 2000. The streak finally ended in 2004 when the incumbent Bush won re-election despite the Redskins loss to the Green Bay Packers.

But the Redskins Rule returned in the last election when the Steelers trounced the Redskins, and Obama handily defeated John McCain a couple days later.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com