If you're looking for a sure-fire way to predict who will be our next president, forget about public opinion polls, the stock market or Jimmy the Greek.

It is often said that U.S. presidential elections really don't begin until the World Series is over. After looking at the record, especially of recent history, I have come to the conclusion that it would be more accurate to say that the election might well be decided the moment this year's World Series winner is crowned.

In the last seven presidential election years, going back to 1952, every time the American League team has won the World Series (1952, 1956, 1968 and 1972) a Republican president has been elected a few weeks later. Each time the National League triumphed (1960, 1964 and 1976) the Democrats won the White House.

Not convinced? Well, if you check all the way back to 1908, the first year to see both a presidential election and a World Series, you discover that of six National League victories, only one has been followed by a Republican president. And that was in 1908 when the winners were the Chicago Cubs and William Howard Taft.

The record following American League triumphs is less clear: five wins for Democrats and seven for Republicans. However, of the Democratic victories, two were by superstars Franklin Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, and Woodrow Wilson in 1912, and 1916. Both were accomplished precedent breakers.

The league championships also are variables. This year's presidential race might have gone differently had not the Yankees, who have been involved in eight World Series during presidential election years, lost to Kansas City in the American League. The Yankees won the first five Series (1928, 1932, 1936, 1952, and 1956) with Repbulican presidents following three of these, the Democrats winning two. But the Yankees have lost the last three election year World Series (1960, 1964 and 1976) and the Democrats have won following each Yankee loss.

Houston's playoff victory over the Dodgers was an obvious boost to supporters of Jimmy Carter. The Dodgers have yet to win a World Series in four tries during presidential election years. And Dodger losses resulted in a Democratic win only once, way back in 1916, when the Red Sox scored their only World Series triumph and Woodrow Wilson won.

The year 1948 was the last time this World Series pattern of National-Democratic and American-Republican victories was broken. The Cleveland Indians preceded Harry Truman's victory that year, defeating -- you guessed it -- Billy Southworth's Boston Braves. t

The conclusion is inevitable and undoubtedly just: if the National League champions win the World Series you can count on another term for Jimmy Carter.