March Madness: Jeb Bush's NCAA Bracket Favors Swing States

Posted by Claire Daviss on March 18, 2015
Yesterday Jeb Bush released his NCAA bracket to the world, as the Washington Post reported.

Jeb Bush, former Governor of Florida, has been on the short-list of potential Republican candidates for president in 2016 after he announced he was "actively considering" a run. With a presidential race in mind, we can begin to analyze his picks for the NCAA winners.

Other presidential candidates seem to give leeway to swing state teams in their NCAA brackets. President Obama released his bracket in 2012, for example. The Washington Post writes, "The picks weren't crazy, but they were somewhat politically convenient." Perhaps the same is now true for Jeb Bush. Here are three items of note:

1. Bush predicts that UVA wins it all! This is not completely crazy, given that UVA is the second seed in the tournament. Nonetheless, Virginia has been a swing state in the past two presidential elections. In 2012, its underlying partisanship was 49.99% -- a near perfect split. Taking that detail into account, perhaps Bush's pick is just a little too convenient.

2. Bush predicts Iowa beats Gonzaga in the round of 32. As the Washington Post points out, this would be "a pretty major upset." Iowa is the No. 7 seed, and Gonzaga is the No. 2 seed. But of course, in presidential elections, it makes sense why Bush would favor Iowa over Washington (Gonzaga's home state). Iowa's 2012 underlying partisanship was 49.02%, making it a definite swing state. Washington's underlying partisanship was 44.49%, making it a safe blue state. Bush certainly stands to gain from rooting for the underdog in this NCAA faceoff.

3. Bush predicts Duke makes the Final Four. Again, not a crazy pick. Duke is the No. 1 seed in this tournament. And yet, Bush may be a bit biased because of Duke's home state of North Carolina. North Carolina was previously a safe red state, but entered a group of swing states when it went to Obama in 2008 (those "Blue Devils," the Republicans might say). In 2012, North Carolina's underlying partisanship was 52.95%, making it a likely swing state in the 2016 elections.

(More analysis on the Washington Post.)

March Madness is known for being unpredictable. But it is a pretty safe bet that in the 2016 presidential elections, only a small handful of swing states will receive any attention whatsoever. The best way to restore the competition in presidential elections and involve the entire country is a national popular vote. Read more on the FairVote website.
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