"Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you”

Pericles



Thursday, March 19, 2009

March Madness for Political Junkies

Besides revealing how cool he is, President Obama’s public release of his NCAA “Baracket” selections on ESPN yesterday got me to thinking. How many of the teams reside in Democratic House districts? How many are located in districts that voted for Obama? The sportscasters can debate the primacy of the Big East (did they really deserve three Number One seeds) over the ACC and the down years for the SEC, Pac 10 and Big Ten. That ground has been covered.

If we look at the bracket through the lens of the Red/Blue divide that permeates our political discussions (I know, I know, this isn’t the post partisan change Obama promised, but just let me have my fun here, OK?) how does the tournament stack up? And, did the president calculate the political ramifications in making his selections?

First, a few observations about the President’s Baracket. Despite the punditocracy’s growing chorus about the president’s aggressive agenda, the president’s bracket is extremely conservative. Pragmatically embracing the status quo, the Commander-in-Chief has four top seeds (UNC, Pitt & Louisville) and one # 2 (Memphis) reaching the Final Four in Detroit. In fact, he’s only got the lower seed winning NINE games (out of 63!) in the entire tournament. In the first round, he’s got two # 11s (Temple and VCU) and a #10 (Maryland) knocking off higher seeds along two #9s (Butler & Tennessee) emerging with victories over #8s. He's got an entire Region (the Midwest) playing to form with every game won by the top seed. There is no Cinderella in his bracket.

Forty-four of the sixty-five teams are represented by Democrats in the House. Regionally, the partisan breakdown looks like this:













Midwest WEST
SchoolCDParty'08SchoolCDParty'08
1LouisvilleKY-03DObama1ConnecticutCT-02DObama
16Alabama StAL-02DMcCain16ChattanoogaTN-03RMcCain
Morehead StKY-05RMcCain
8Ohio StOH-15DObama8BYUUT-03RMcCain
9SienaNY-21DObama9Texas A&MTX-17DMcCain
5UtahUT-02DMcCain5PurdueIN-04RMcCain
12ArizonaAZ-07
D
Obama12
N. Iowa
IA-01DObama
4Wake Forest
NC-12
DObama
4
WashingtonWA-07
D
Obama
13
Cleveland St
OH-11D
Obama
13Mississippi St
MS-03
RMcCain
6West VirginiaWV-01
D
McCain6MarquetteWI-04DObama
11
Dayton
OH-03RMcCain11
Utah St
UT-01RMcCain
3KansasKS-03D
Obama
3MissouriMO-09RMcCain
14N. Dakota StND-ALDMcCain14CornellNY-22D
Obama

7Boston CollegeMA-04DObama7
California
CA-09D
Obama
10USC
CA-33
DObama
10
MarylandMD-05
D
Obama
2
Michigan St
MI-08R
Obama
2Memphis
TN-09
DObama
15Robert MorrisPA-18
R
McCain15
Cal St- Northridge
CA-27D
Obama
EAST SOUTH
SeedSchoolCDParty'08SeedSchoolCDParty'08
1
Pittsburgh

PA-14

D

Obama

1

North Carolina

NC-04

D

Obama
16
E. Tennessee St

TN-01

R

McCain

16

Radford

VA-09

D

McCain
8
Oklahoma St

OK-03

R

McCain

8

LSU

LA-06

R

McCain
9
Tennessee

TN-02

R

McCain

9

Butler

IN-07

D

Obama

5
Florida St

FL-02

D

McCain

5

Illinois

IL-15

R

McCain

12
Wisconsin

WI-02

D

Obama

12

W. Kentucky

KY-02

R

McCain
4
Xavier

OH-01

D

Obama

4

Gonzaga

WA-05

R

McCain
13
Portland St

OR-03

D

Obama

13

Akron

OH-13

D

Obama
6
UCLA

CA-30

D

Obama

6

Arizona St

AZ-05

D

McCain
11
VCU

VA-03

D

Obama

11

Temple

PA-02

D

Obama
3
Villanova

PA-07

D

Obama

3

Syracuse

NY-25

D

Obama

14
American

DC-AL

D

Obama

14

Stephen F. Austin

TX-01

R

McCain
7
Texas

TX-21

R

McCain

7

Clemson

SC-03

R

McCain
10
Minnesota

MN-05

D

Obama

10

Michigan

MI-15

D

Obama
2
Duke

NC-04

D

Obama

2

Oklahoma

OK-04

R

McCain
15
Binghamton

NY-22

D

Obama

15

Morgan St

MD-07

D

Obama










MidwestWestEastSouth
House4 R6 R4 R7 R
13 D10D12 D9 D
08 Result7 McCain7 McCain5 McCain9 McCain

10 Obama

9 Obama
11 Obama7 Obama


Tournament Total
House Delegation: 21 R 44 D
2008 Results: 28 McCain 37 Obama


The East (Boston) and Midwest (Indianapolis) are the bluest regions with the South (Memphis) the reddest. The Midwest Region has the most “purple” districts, purple being defined as a district that gave its vote to a house candidate that was from the opposite party of the district’s winning presidential candidate. Of the nine swing districts only one (Michigan State’s 8th) was won by Obama yet held by a Republican.

Obama’s 44 schools represents 67% of the field, far outpacing the 53% of the popular vote he won in November and exceeding the 59% of House districts the Democrats currently control. This might reflect the presence if many urban schools in this year’s tournament. Or, it could it be validation that America’s colleges and universities are brainwashing our nation’s youth with liberal ideology? I prefer to think it merely represents Beck’s Epic Failure to surround us.

Its clear Obama isn’t picking based on a state’s battleground status, as he’s most often taking the ‘safer’ choice by selecting the higher seed. Wonder if he’ll venture to make his bracket public during the 2012 tournament when he’s gearing up for reelection? As Obama’s picks move into later rounds, his Blue to Red ratio remains constant until the Elite Eight, when only Michigan State remains from a Republican-held district. But, keep in mind, Obama did win this district last fall.

Among the Democrats, the Blue Dogs find themselves outflanked by the Progressive Caucus. Three Blue Dogs are represented in the tournament (Utah’s Jim Matheson, Kansas’ Dennis Moore and FSU’s Allen Boyd). The Progressive Caucus, on the other hand, has lots of teams in the Big Dance: Arizona, California, UCLA, USC, Butler, BC, Morgan St, Minnesota, Wake Forest, Cornell, Binghamton, Cleveland State, Temple, Memphis, Washington and Wisconsin all play in districts represented by members of the Progressive Caucus.


Other fun Partisan Big Dance factoids:
Only two districts are represented by two teams in this year’s tournament:

  • Tobacco Road’s David Price (NC-08 - Duke and Carolina)
    Upstate New York’s Maurice Hinchey (NY-22 – Cornell and Binghamton)

Thirty-two states (and the District of Columbia) are represented in the field of 65. Seventeen states (AZ, CA, IN, KY, MD, MI, NC, NY, OH, OK, PA, TN, TX, UT, VA, WA and WI) are represented by more than one team. California, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Tennessee lead the way with four teams each in the tourney. Of these 32 states, Obama won 18 (representing 302 electoral votes- including DC) to McCain’s 13 (127 EVs)

The most populous state without a home team to root for is Georgia. Conversely, the smallest state sending a team this year is North Dakota.

The only state (aside from DC and North Dakota) to have all of its districts represented is Utah.

If you’ve gotten this far, thanks for indulging me two of my passions – March Madness and political minutiae. Totally pointless, I know, but a wonderful diversion from economic meltdowns, Wall Street Ponzi schemes and Octo-Mom.

Enjoy the madness!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Sunday Muse, Ides of March Edition

Caesar: Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue shriller than all the music
Cry "Caesar!" Speak, Caesar is turn'd to hear.

Soothsayer: Beware the ides of March.

Caesar: What man is that?

Brutus: A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Julius Caesar Act 1, scene 2, 15–19

As if Team Obama didn’t have enough on its plate already:
· Sea level rise caused by melting Antarctic ice sheets and Greenland glaciers could inundate Florida by the end of the century.
· Could the raging drug war south of the border become the defining foreign policy crisis of the Obama Presidency?

From the Economic FUBAR File:
· Wonder what Harry “The Buck Stops Here” Truman would think of the Alan Greenspan’s "The Fed Didn't Cause the Housing Bubble" drivel?
· Does anyone else think NBC's censorship to protect GE’s bottom line no worse than Fox News' regurgitating of GOP talking points?

With campaign 2008 still not resolved in Minnesota, the politicos are already revving up for Election Day 2010. Can the Democrats break through and win a filibuster-breaking 60 Senate seats? The bigger question is, “Do they really want to?”

They could break the threshold by enticing Arlen Specter to abandon the dwindling herd of Irrelephants in the Senate. As we debate the possibility, the wingnuts at Human Events provide their hunting list of RINO Senators. You know it’s bad when Utah’s Bob Bennett and Mississippi’s Thad Cochran make their top ten.

Pure drivel from CQ Politics about the tough place Harry Reid finds himself in:

As Senate majority leader, he juggles a myriad of competing political interests. He also has to balance those against his own best interest as he gears up for a potentially tough re-election battle in 2010.

Lately, the Nevada Democrat has been putting some daylight between his positions and President Obama’s. It’s a strategy that might help him avoid the fate of Tom Daschle, who was defeated for re-election in South Dakota in 2004 despite being the Senate’s top Democrat.

Reid, 69, recently has made a point of saying he’s working with
Obama, not for him.


Right. Nevada’s voters backed President Obama last fall and kicked out one of their two Republican house members. The incumbent Republican governor is one of the least popular in the nation and the administration has moved to abandon Yucca Mountain, removing Nevada politics’ most radioactive issue and Harry Reid is afraid of running as part of the President’s team?

The analogy to Tom Daschle who ran in a Deep Red state against a very popular president riding the post-9/11 Terror Train is intellectually lame. If Reid is indeed frightened of the specter of Daschle’s defeat, Democrats should be worried about the quality of our Senate leadership.

Change I Can Believe In:
· Breaking the stalemate: Pat Leahy threatens to name names.
· Restoring the Constitution: Confounding Republicans, Democrats show they understand the Founding Principle of the three co-equal branches of government. After years of rubberstamping Dubya's policies, GOPers are perplexed by congressional Democrats fulfilling their Constitutional role.

From the “Wishful Thinking” File:
Doomsday Clock May Finally Stop Ticking

Ending on a positive note: Americans love our new First Lady.