OVERLAND PARK, Kan.—Kansas City sports fans are in full World Series fever as the Royals come home tonight for Game 6. Two of the team's biggest fans: Sen. Pat Roberts and Gov. Sam Brownback.
The pair of Republican pols, both in the final week of tough reelection battles, gushed about their home team's chances against the San Francisco Giants on Monday at a campaign event in Overland Park, a suburb of Kansas City.
"First thing: Go Royals!" Brownback said as he opened the event, a rally with 2012 presidential candidate Mitt Romney and former Sen. Bob Dole. "We can do it, we can do it, we're gonna get it done. And when we get that done, we're gonna have a clean sweep [of GOP candidates winning]."
Roberts, too, gave homage to the Royals in his Monday speech.
"Now is no time to lose the faith," he joked, putting on a blue Royals cap, joking that his team's success is due to "divine intervention."
"Well, actually, .250 hitters, with great defense and great pitchers, and great heart, but most important, the greatest fans in baseball," he continued, to applause from the audience.
Dole even presented Romney with a Royals jacket at the end of the rally, which Romney proceeded to put on while he was still on stage, prompting cheers of "Let's go, Royals!" from the crowd.
Both GOP pols' schedules today revolve around the World Series game: Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, who's stumping with Roberts at events across the state, will also hold a $100-per-head fundraiser tonight for Brownback and Roberts that's billed as a World Series watch party.
In addition to being sports fans themselves, there could be another reason Roberts and Brownback are hoping for a Royals victory this week: Some research suggests that incumbents get a bump in the polls from major local sports victories. A paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2010 found that if an influential local sports team wins within 10 days leading up to the election, incumbent politicians' support increases by an average of 1.61 percentage points.
If that trend were to hold true in Kansas, where both Brownback and Roberts are locked in margin-of-error races, 1.61 points could make all the difference. According to RealClearPolitics averages of the most recent polls in each race, Roberts trails independent Greg Orman by 0.6 percentage points; Brownback trails Democratic candidate Paul Davis by the same margin.
(The Royals are currently trailing, too—the Giants have won three games to the Royals' two.)
Roberts and Brownback aren't the only Kansas pols to make reference to the Royals' postseason success. After the final Senate debate between Roberts and Orman—which just happened to be the same night the Royals won the ALCS—Orman's campaign sent out a press release summing up the debate and congratulating the team, too. "THE ROYALS WIN!! "¦ And Greg Orman Clearly Outperforms Roberts Again In Final Statewide TV Debate," the release's subject line said.