James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association, a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media, and a professor of communication studies at Whitworth University.

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Some real ‘horse-race’ coverage that bodes ill for GOP

Posted by James McPherson on May 21, 2012

I’ll Have Another won the Preakness Stakes on Saturday, following up on the horse’s previous win in the Kentucky Derby. That could be bad news for Mitt Romney and the Republicans.

So what does horse racing’s Triple Crown have to do with the presidential election? Probably nothing–since I’m not much of a gambler or horse racing fan, I’m not much into omens. But if there’s a relationship between the two, Romney (who no doubt knows some thoroughbred owners) has even more reason to worry.

As it turns out, only eight horses have won the first two legs of the Triple Crown during presidential election years. In six of those eight cases, the Democratic candidate then proceeded to win the White House. The two exceptions also proved noteworthy: In 1968, Forward Pass became the only horse to win the Kentucky Derby because of a disqualification and a contested decision eventually determined by the Kentucky Supreme Court. In 2004, Smarty Jones won the first two Triple Crown races, and George W. Bush won his second presidential election–which, unlike the first, did not have to be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The only horse ever to win the Triple Crown during a presidential election year was Citation, in 1948. What else happened that year? Oh, yeah: Harry Truman was the incumbent president, but earlier that year had announced that the U.S. military would be desegregated (allowing African Americans, not gays, to serve with whites). Truman ran against Thomas Dewey, a cold, stiff, Northeastern governor and mostly campaigned against the famous Republican-controlled “Do-Nothing Congress“–which, incidentally, the current Congress has made look like a bunch of workaholics. The1948 result? “Dewey Defeats Truman,” of course.

So when it comes to comparing 2012 to 1948, Democrats are no doubt cheering for I’ll Have Another. Republicans, on the other hand, will want to put their money on any other horse in the field. Perhaps Rousing Sermon?

Come to think of it, Republicans probably don’t want I’ll Have Another to win, anyway. After all, how would it look if the jockey for next Triple Crown winner were to be ridden by a young Mexican guy?

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One Response to “Some real ‘horse-race’ coverage that bodes ill for GOP”

  1. […] Women's Voices. Women Vote « Some real ‘horse-race’ coverage that bodes ill for GOP […]

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