"The public ignores a presidential (or general) election until after the World Series” has been a political axiom since at least the 1920s. The World Series used to end in early October, and a general election takes place the first Tuesday in November. The public would have a month to pay attention to the election.
However, the World Series now ends much later, making the political expression obsolete. In 2010, a potential Game 7 of the World Series was scheduled for November 4th, but election day was scheduled for November 2nd.
Wikipedia: World Series
The World Series has been the annual championship series of the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada since 1903, concluding the postseason of Major League Baseball. Since the Series takes place in October, sportswriters many years ago dubbed the event the Fall Classic; it is also sometimes known as the October Classic or simply The Series. It is played between the League Championship Series winning clubs from MLB’s two circuits, the American and National Leagues. The World Series has been played every year since 1903 with the exception of 1904 (boycott) and 1994 (player strike). Though professional baseball has employed various championship formulas since the 1860s, the term “World Series” is usually understood to refer exclusively to the modern World Series.
Though the name “World Series” might bring to mind an intercontinental championship, it is confined within Major League Baseball’s American and National Leagues. Since those two leagues together generally attract the top talent from around the world, the World Series is thought of among fans and sports writers as a de facto world championship.
31 October 1924, Baltimore (MD) Sun, “G.O.P. revises its estimate for New York” by Frank R. Kent, pg. 1:
People never become actively interested in politics until after the World Series.
26 October 1960, Cleveland (OH) Plain Dealer, “Emotion Cuts Ice as Campaign Gets Hot” by Philip W. Porter, pg. 13, col. 1:
A couple of ancient, but true, political axioms are (1) that campaigns don’t really heat up until after the World Series, and (2) the time for really telling blows are in the last two to three weeks when lies can’t be answered.
The Republican Party in American politics
By Charles O Jones
New York, NY: Macmillan
Though normally Americans are preoccupied with baseball until after the World Series, they were encouraged to attend to politics earlier in the fall of 1960.
Google News Archive
1 September 1972, Sarasota (FL) Herald-Tribune, “All Politics” by Nick Thimmesch, pg. 6A, col. 6:
Many an old poltiician swore nothing happened in an election year until after Labor Day, and nothing really important happened until after the World Series.
Google News Archive
30 August 1976, Spokane (WA) Daily Chronicle, “Ho-Him Primary Is Still Dormant” by David Ammons, Empire Edition, pg. 1, col. 4:
Another observer gives his rule of thumb: “People don’t give two cents for politics until after the World Series!”
Adlai Stevenson of Illinois:
The life of Adlai E. Stevenson
By John Bartlow Martin
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
Chicago politicians say that nobody really gets interested in a campaign until after the World Series.
How Jimmy won:
The victory campaign from Plains to the White House
By Kandy Stroud
New York, NY: Morrow
“That old political axiom, that people don’t start getting interested in politics until after the World Series is true.”
Playing to win:
An insider’s guide to politics
By Jeff Greenfield
New York, NY: Simon and Schuster
Once it was a basic rule of American politics that “the presidential election doesn’t start until after the World Series.
By Jimmy Carter; United States. President (1977-1981 : Carter); United States. Office of the Federal Register.
Washington, DC: Office of the Federal Register, National Archives and Records Service, General Services Administration : U.S. G.P.O.
She pointed out that the Phillies did the country a great service, recently, because, you know, nobody pays any attention to the Presidential election until after the World Series is over.
The Elections of 1988
By Michael Nelson
Washington, DC: CQ Press
Despite the folk wisdom that the public ignores a presidential election until after the World Series, the crucial phase of the 1988 campaign took place in late summer, while the champion-to-be Dodgers were still struggling to make the playoffs.
Rolling Into Uncharted Territory
Monday, Nov. 02, 1992
An old political adage has it that Americans don’t really get serious about presidential elections until after the World Series. Thanks to baseball’s play-off schedule, the fall classic now runs deep into October, this year leaving scarcely more than a week between its conclusion and Election Day.
Washington (DC) Post
Election 2004: State of the Races
Cook Political Report Editor
Monday, October 11, 2004; 10:00 AM
Charles Cook: Great question. I think you can categorize undecided voters into two camps. First, there are people who don’t read newspapers, news magazines, news websites and don’t watch much television news, who really don’t care much for news or politics, but see some obligation to vote anyway. They don’t focus until very late, the old adage goes, until after the World Series is over.
Washington (DC) Post
Weather concerns prompted shift in MLB schedule
By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 15, 2010; 9:03 PM
This year, by contrast, the regular season ends on Oct. 3, with Game 7 of the World Series scheduled for Nov. 4.
New York City • Government/Law/Politics/Military • (0) Comments • Wednesday, September 15, 2010 • Permalink