Presidential Politics and the World Series

Phillies v. Rays.  Philadelphia v. Tampa Bay.  Pennsylvania v. Florida.  At some point, in this year, at this point in time, with these two states, is there any doubt that the Presidential contenders are going to weigh in on the World Series?  And if they do, are they likely to choose sides?

I'm betting that both candidates walk a fine line between appearing neutral and supporting the Rays.  They'll say that both teams are great and they don't have a hometown rooting interest.  But, they'll make it clear that they support the Rays over the Phillies.

Why?  Simple polling data.  Going into the election, both Pennsylvania and Florida were seen as key battleground states.  However, as November 4 approaches, Pennsylvania has decidedly lost that status (even if the national media and the candidates pretend  otherwise).  As of today, Real Clear Politics, which averages the polls for the individual states, has Obama +13.2% in Pennsylvania.  PECOTA-inventor and now polling genius Nate Silver has Obama's chances of winning Pennsylvania at 98%, predicting a 9.8% margin of victory.

Florida, on the other hand, is closer.  Even though it has voted for the Democrat only once in the last 7 presidential elections, the current polls average to +3.2% for Obama.  That's much closer than Pennsylvania.  According to Silver, in Florida, Obama has a 77% chance of winning, with a predicted margin of victory of 3.1%.

With those numbers, it's safe to say that Florida, although currently leaning toward Obama, has retained its battleground status much more than Pennsylvania has.  Moreover, the Philadelphia region borders three very safe Democratic states -- New Jersey, Maryland, and Delaware.  The closest state to the Tampa region is Georgia, which is currently polling for McCain at an average of 6.8%, but is a state that could conceivably be much closer on election day.

Obama and McCain undoubtedly know all of this and will adjust their publicly-stated rooting preferences accordingly.  Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, and the Phillies be damned.  The presidential candidates are now Rays fans.

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