When it comes to elections, sometimes we vote with our heads and sometimes with our hearts. But scientists at Stanford say we might also be voting with our pompoms. Because they’ve found that our behavior at the polls is influenced by the results of local sporting events, work published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [Andrew Healy, Neil Malhotra and Cecilia Hyunjung Mo, http://bit.ly/cURQ2E]
Humans are emotional creatures. And our strong feelings about one thing can spread to another. So the Stanford scientists wondered whether events that are unrelated to government performance might sway the way people feel about their elected officials. And what could be less relevant to the workings in Washington or your state capital than college football?
The researchers looked at the election results from 20 years’ worth of presidential, senatorial and gubernatorial races. And they found that a home-team win before the election gave the incumbent a boost of almost two percentage points. The more beloved the team, the bigger the bounce.
And it’s not just football. In a separate survey, the scientists found that NCAA college basketball results affected presidential approval ratings. So next election day, you might think about practicing a little separation of stadium and state.
[The above text is an exact transcript of this podcast.]