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"Everything — Except the Polls — Points to a Romney Landslide"

That is the headline of an archive from Monday's Rush Limbaugh Show. But Rush has statistics on his side; he invoked the Redskins Rule to prove that Obama will be defeated.

Rush Limbaugh

How does that work? If the Washington Redskins win their last home game, the incumbent president (or party) wins. But the Redskins lost their last home game, so Romney should take the presidency.

Such "rules" are mystical theories of correlation, and — like religious conviction — they are often valued more highly than reality (by some of us). They provide a simple means by which to interpret more complex phenomena, and in doing so, they offer comfort. Simple myths are also easily modified when they fail, or discarded for another, different myth when appropriate. [In fact alternative myths have been suggested in the comments, below.]

This election day's Dixville Notch offers an example of such myths at work. CNN covered the first vote of the election, and a reporter asserted that ten votes, cast in a 5-5 tie, "confirmed the closeness" of this election.

CNN video of the first votes cast, resulting in a 5-5 tie

With only ten voters, a 5-5 tie is not an unusual, nor a surprising outcome. Yet the symbolism of the Dixville Notch tie was invoked on later CNN morning programs as well. (Simplistic symbolism, used to interpret the more complex...)

Another such myth is the idea that Obama was rescued by the hurricane. However:

Hurricane Sandy factored into a polling trend that already existed

The polling data suggests that the hurricane merely reinforced a trend that already existed.

Rush said on Monday,

RUSH: I guarantee you if a football game had a different outcome yesterday, you would be hearing nothing but this today.  But since the Washington Redskins lost at home on a game before the election, it means ... that the out-of-power party wins...

I guarantee you.  You can't find it anywhere.  It's only because I know the Redskins Rule that I was looking this up, and I did see a little blurb in one of the pregame shows before the football game started yesterday.

  —Rush Limbaugh: Everything -- Except the Polls -- Points to a Romney Landslide, November 5, 2012

Rush is actually wrong about the buzz. We are a myth-embracing society, and our mass media has dutifully reported on this myth — at least to the extent that Google News records more than 19,000 hits for news stories mentioning the "Redskins Rule". The LA Times even has a poll about the Redskins Rule:
     
Do you believe in the "Redskins rule"?
At risk of falling into yet another simplistic interpretation, I note that the current results in this poll about the myth are split by percentages similar to the polls on Obama/Romney — that is, split down the middle, with a slight advantage to unbelievers (who presumably will vote for Obama). It is in our nature to seize upon such patterns!

But here's the thing about the Redskins Rule: it failed in 2004. So like so many polls that a certain political party has found uncomfortable this election cycle, the Redskins Rule was "unskewed" — it was revised with an exception based upon a discrepancy between the popular vote and the electoral college, one election removed, that now makes it "perfect" (and therefore relevant) once again.

But it just wouldn't be as much fun for the LA Times to ask a more comprehensive, and therefore more applicable question:

     
Do you believe in the "Redskins rule" version 1, which has been upheld a mere 17 out of 18 times, or do you believe in the revised and more convoluted "Redskins rule" version 2, which has been upheld a (now perfect!) 18 out of 18 times?
All the magic of a simple myth would disappear.

Indeed, without such simplistic notions, Rush would likely lose his audience.

RUSH: (on the pending Romney landslide...)

This is my brain talking. This is my brain informing me.  My brain and my own analysis, independent of what the polls say.  Then I look at what the polls say and none of this computes.

  —Rush Limbaugh: Everything -- Except the Polls -- Points to a Romney Landslide, November 5, 2012


     
Rush Limbaugh's talk radio career is in a slow downward spiral in part because of the activism of consumers, volunteers, and activists who seek to hold Rush accountable for his hate speech. One very active group in this cause is Flush Rush on Facebook. Flush Rush and other, similar groups use the StopRush Database to inform advertisers about where their ads are appearing.

Please consider joining. Small donations are also accepted to fund data storage; visit StopRush for more information.

Flush Rush on Facebook: http://facebook.com/...
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