Thursday, March 19, 2009

Obligatory Brackets Post: 2008 Presidential Candidates

Look, I'm a basketball fan. It is hard to grow up in North Carolina and not be. Indiana may get the Basketball State distinction, but that's high school basketball. So I say Indiana Schmindiana. I'm talking about college basketball. And North Carolina is the home of college basketball (in my opinion).

The fact that I'm a fan, then, may have been lost during last year's NCAA tournament, but I was much more involved in the presidential tournament that coincided with the Big Dance. This is true every four years, but 2008 was unusual. Typically the presidential candidates take care of their party business and clear out in time for the basketball start. But not in 2008. No, the top two seeds in the Democratic bracket had to extend their contest until June. And even though there weren't any contests after March 11 (or before April 22 for that matter), the battle was still on. Who can forget Obama's "bittergate" injury or his association with the now infamous agent, Jeremiah Wright, which jeopardized his amateur status?

[Note to self: No more bad jokes linking politics and basketball.]

Well, maybe just one more.

Seeding above is a bit post hoc, but I had to weigh the difference between issue/longshot candidates and when each candidate dropped out. There is no perfect formula. However, this is my opinion of where everyone would have been slotted. And as is the case with the NCAA Selection Committee, the FHQ Committee of One is second-guessed to no avail (...or those watching usually forget about the selection process and get wrapped up in the tournament process once it begins).

Just for fun, I'll try and put up a prospective 2012 bracket at some point in the next couple of days.

Related reading:
The Obama Basketball Bracket

FiveThirtyEight's Swing State Bias Analysis of the Obama Bracket and [UPDATE] Nate Silver's overall projections as well.

Now, let the real upsets begin.

Recent Posts:
Election 2012: Obama 55 - Palin 35

Now Why Didn't They Just Do This Last Week?

The Links (3/18/09): ANES Edition


Jack said...

Gravel ahead of Dodd? Seriously?

And both you and Mr. Rudin overrate Ron Paul.

Even though he posted a bracket with 32, I'd still like to see your eight.

Josh Putnam said...

Yeah, that's really the problem with doing this post hoc. Memories of how things turned out pervert to some extent the reality.

Here's how I would justify the Gravel-Dodd decision. Dodd was interchangeable with a few other candidates. Gravel was not. Both were in the lower tier, but because of the presence of other candidates, Dodd got knocked down some. So I treated them as similar and then made the executive decision that Dodd-Vilsack was a nice pairing to fill a particular area on the bracket. Plus, I couldn't justify a Gravel over Vilsack scenario. So he got slotted in a first round spot where he would definitely lose.

From a winning standpoint, yeah, Ron Paul is perhaps overvalued here. That 5 seed is based on his presence. He and Fred Thompson were really tough to place. Thompson was a wildcard and Paul was a monkeywrench. Their placements are based on the fact, like above, that the other candidates had strengths that were better addressed by the top tier or were Tom Tancredo.

I'll try and put some thought into those 8 for 2012. Like I said, 32 is a stretch. A condensed version is probably more ideal.

Josh Putnam said...

Oh, and somewhat hypocritically, I picked Haley Barbour over Paul on the NPR bracket.

Jack said...

Oh, I didn't see that you could vote. My only "upsets" are Whitman over Thune, Brownback over Daniels, Barbour over Paul, and, because I've heard (I'm no basketball fan) that you're supposed to pick one big upset, Cantor over Newt.

They should really do things this way, actually. Palin-Steele would be a lot of fun, and Newt-Cantor would be very interesting. So would Flake-Paul, if they had it.

Anonymous said...

Trying to seed Ron Paul is interesting; he'd lose to any of these candidates in a head-to-head matchup, but in a field of 32 he'd finish ahead of many of them.

Jared said...


Gravel is overrated as a #7, but no seed really fits him. He hung around longer than anyone not named Obama or Clinton, even though he kept losing to candidates that left the race. He didn't even drop out of the race, instead going to the Libertarians and trying to win that nomination.

I mean, what can you do with a guy who loses the "Play-In" Game, then turns around and loses in the NIT?

And a Vilsack-Dodd match-up makes sense, since Vilsack was the former governor of Iowa, while Dodd moved his family to Iowa for his campaign. In essence, it's an Iowa play-in game that Dodd wins, getting the honor of losing to Clinton by 40.

And actually, I think Paul is underseeded as a #5. He did win more votes and delegates than Giuliani and raised more money than Huckabee or Thompson. I probably would have given him the #4 in a weak field.

Besides, Giuliani would be the perfect #5. Team overrated because of the name ("America's Mayor") and the conference ("Big State") who goes down to a tough but fundamentally flawed underdog with no chance of actually winning the whole thing ("The rEVOLution").