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All-Star politics

Barry McNamara
07/16/2010
During the recently concluded World Cup, Paul the Octopus become a global celebrity, correctly predicting the results of eight consecutive contests, including the final between Spain and the Netherlands.

Two days following the World Cup’s conclusion, a Monmouth College graduate made sports prognostication news here in the U.S.

Eric Ostermeier ’92, a research associate at the University of Minnesota and author of the blog “Smart Politics,” climbed out on a pretty big limb when he predicted that the National League would end a 13-year drought and win Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game in Anaheim, Calif.

Ostermeier, who majored in political science and communication at Monmouth, didn’t just make his prediction to a few friends or in his blog. He received media attention from NBC News and Atlantic Monthly, as well as the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

That attention has continued since Ostermeier was proven to be correct. The National League rallied in the seventh inning and went on to post a 3-1 victory, its first over the American League since 1996.

“I got a good run out of what was a late Monday night lark,” Ostermeier said of the media blitz.

Ostermeier based his baseball prediction on a political one. It is widely assumed that the Republican Party will gain a large share of seats in both the House of Representatives and the Senate after this November’s election. The MC grad had observed that a National League victory has preceded every election with double-digit GOP House gains since 1950. The sample size is growing, as the 2010 election would mark the 10th time it’s happened.

The same correlation is true in the Senate. Each year since 1948 that the Republicans have gained at least five seats, the NL has won. In the same time span, American League victories have preceded Democratic gains of five Senate seats or more. Congressional Republicans have never made substantial gains in either chamber during years in which the All-Star Game was won by the American League.

“I have to stick by the data, and I have to go with the upset, because all signs point to a big GOP victory in Congress, and that can only go with a National League victory,” Ostermeier told a reporter from Politico, a multimedia political news source.

In his “Smart Politics” blog, Ostermeier wrote of “the mysterious yet powerfully predictive value of the annual baseball classic. “Smart Politics” is the blog of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Political Affairs. One fan of the blog wrote, “’Smart Politics’ is by far the best Minnesota political blog. I check it every day and encounter much good information and analysis that I can get nowhere else.”

Ostermeier received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Minnesota in 2006 and his J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School in 1995. His research interests include elections, legislative politics, public opinion, crime policy, and mass communication, and his research has been published in Presidential Studies Quarterly, Journal of Politics and Public Perspective.

Ostermeier has also worked with Pew Charitable Trusts on several consulting projects, directing survey research and co-authoring reports in areas such as state government performance, early childhood education, journalism, higher education and environmental health. In addition to his political interests, Ostermeier owns and manages Words On Music, an international record label that is home to 10 artists.

Although he appeared on a national stage and nailed his prediction, Ostermeier remains humble. When asked by a reporter if he was psychic or simply a good data analyzer, Ostermeier replied, “Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.”