Ohio State v. U of Illinois: The Game That Will Determine Education Policy for Next 4 Years

You may be aware the presidential election is close. And that it's likely to turn on the electoral college swing state of Ohio.

And that Ohio is neck-and-neck, with a slight edge to Obama.

My brother Steve referred me to this amazing study:

To precisely test for the effects of irrelevant information, we explore the electoral impact of local college football games just before an election, irrelevant events that government has nothing to do with and for which no government response would be expected.

We find that a win in the 10 days before Election Day causes the incumbent to receive an additional 1.61 percentage points of the vote in Senate, gubernatorial, and presidential elections, with the effect being larger for teams with stronger fan support.

I couldn't believe it at first. I examined their numbers, though, and the study is legit. The 3 economists write:

To test whether irrelevant events affect voters’ decisions, we consider a unique quasi-experimental context: local sports outcomes.

These game outcomes create an ideal variable for testing the hypothesis that voters’ decisions are affected by events separate from politics, because (i) they have been shown to significantly affect people's well-being, either directly or via mood contagion in social networks (13–16), and (ii) they are unrelated to public affairs. No government response would be expected in response to game outcomes and the public would almost certainly not relate them to incumbent performance.

Moreover, we find that voters respond to the random, unexpected outcome of game outcomes, further illustrating that voters appear to be responding to short-term emotional stimuli as opposed to responding to a team's overall strength....

We analyze the relationship between pre-election college football outcomes and the electoral performance of the incumbent party with aggregate-level data (study 1).

Got that? We're talking a 1.5% to 3.0% (for Big Football programs like OSU) surge in voters supporting the incumbent.

Who does OSU play on November 3rd -- the weekend before Election Day?

U of Illinois.

At home.

The Fighting Illini are not a good football team. OSU will probably be favored by 2 touchdowns.

But it probably wouldn't hurt Obama's re-election chances if Axelrod made a phone call. Maybe there's a star Illini player that is, you know, teetering on the brink of academic eligibility.

After the election, some enterprising reporter should FOIA White House calls to the U of Illinois made on Friday Nov 2.

So how will ed policy be affected?

Possibly not much.

Their K-12 views are similar.

I'm not sure anyone has examined their specific views towards Schools of Education and teacher prep. My guess: An Obama term would continue the push to measure Ed Schools based on test scores, while a Romney appointee might drop that...but would accelerate the boom in for-profit online colleges, which are rapidly gobbling up market share in teacher education programs.