Why Romney lost: It’s the golf, stupid

Should Mitt Romney consider running yet again for the White House (for the love of all that is sacred in the game of golf, please no!), the former Massachusetts governor may want to learn how to swing a club.

With Barack Obama winning reelection and becoming the ninth consecutive golfer since 1980 to take up residence in the White House, according to PGA.com, there seems to be a fairly substantial link between 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and golf.

At the very least, should he continue his unending quest for the presidency, the Mittster may want to make something other than his incessant scolding of Obama for his penchant for the fairways the centerpiece of his campaign. After all, everybody’s favorite ex-prez, Bill Clinton, says in the December issue of Golf Digest that, “Presidents need to rest their minds, not just their bodies,” according to the Washington Post’s The Reliable Source.

“They need the exercise, the fresh air,” says No. 42, who will be one of four Golf Digest cover subjects — along with Olympics star Michael Phelps and Hollywood’s Michael J. Fox and Morgan Freeman — for the Golf Digest’s “Game Changers: Players Who Give Back” feature. The piece will highlight the charity work of the four cover boys and 20 other celebrity golfers.

As for the golf-to-presidency connection, Gerald Ford inaugurated the tie-in with his 1980 defeat of non-linkster Jimmy Carter. Following that campaign, every sitting president has been an aficionado of the fairways. Indeed, as PGA.com noted, the only golfer to lose his seat in that span was George H.W. Bush, who handed over the mantle of Duffer-in-Chief to Clinton in 1992.

Despite his notorious aversion to the game, by the way, Romney had the rich-white-male-golfer vote in his very deep pocket even before bestowing the title of “greatest athlete of the 20th century” on Jack Nicklaus. The Ohio-born links legend stumped for the Republican, but was unable to deliver the prized battleground Buckeye State to the GOP column.

Here’s the scorecard for the race to the White House since 1980:

  • 1980: Ronald Reagan (golfer) defeats Jimmy Carter (non-golfer)
  • 1984: Ronald Reagan defeats Walter Mondale (non-golfer)
  • 1988: George H.W. Bush (golfer) defeats Michael Dukakis (non-golfer)
  • 1992: Bill Clinton (golfer) defeats George H.W. Bush
  • 1996: Bill Clinton defeats Bob Dole (non-golfer)
  • 2000: George W. Bush (golfer) defeats Al Gore (non-golfer)
  • 2004: George W. Bush defeats John Kerry (non-golfer)
  • 2008: Barack Obama (golfer) defeats John McCain (non-golfer)
  • 2012: Barack Obama defeats Mitt Romney (the anti-golfer)

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