Monday, March 31, 2008

If the U.S. Election were an Online Pick’em Tournament…

Although sports isn't necessarily our forte here, the NCAA tournament certainly calls for drastic measures. And, yes, there are some potent political lessons to be learned here on the part of the Democrats. This is a sporting event that manages to take 64 groups of young black and white men, usher them throughout the country with a stressful schedule and still determine a winner in a month. Still beats a year and a half, no?

Both presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain, earlier this month released their picks for the tournament. While they may not agree on various policy issues, especially the future course of action in Iraq, they do concur that the University of North Carolina will win the championship.

First, Obama picked three of the the four finalists, missing only Memphis, who he believed would fall to Pittsburgh in the regional semi-finals. In Obama’s defence, however, he is still campaigning. If he were to have picked against Pittsburgh there may have been grave repercussions in the upcoming Pennsylvania primary. With 158 delegates at stake on April 22 and another 115 up for grabs on May 6 in North Carolina, Obama’s bracket is a nice combination of common sense...and gutless politicking. Take your pick.

McCain’s blunder was much worse. He also picked three of the four finalists, but thought the University of North Carolina would beat Connecticut in the final. UConn, however, ended up pulling a Rudy Giuliani and lost in the first round to San Diego. McCain’s Elite Eight picks, of which he picked only 4 correctly, was heavy with schools from red states: two schools from North Carolina, two from Tennessee, and then Texas and Kansas rounding it out. Of of the two exceptions, afore-mentioned UConn was likely a thank-you to Senator Joe Lieberman; Georgetown, the other blue standing out in the group, payed homage to top aide Mark Salter’s Alma matter.

Hilary Clinton, on the other hand, deferred her NCAA picks to her husband, who subsequently decided to pass. Ominous foreshadowing perhaps?

After 60 games, Obama has correctly picked the winners of 38 games while McCain has chosen correctly 36 times. Overall, this equates to 63.3% accuracy versus a still-impressive 60%.

Ultimately, what this all means is, yes, politics and Bracketology are both crap shoots. The moral of the story - with all four number one seeds now going to the final four - is that most likely Abigail from the mailroom is going to win your office pool. And Obama and McCain will now fire the guys who were tasked with making them look "hip" via basketball picks.

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