Common Sense: Using Bracketology in the Voting Booth
by Bob Eschliman
I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m not a fan of Mitt Romney. Likewise, it’s probably not a national secret that I have zero interest in voting for Willard, either.
So, who am I going to vote for? Barack Obama? While he’s slightly less liberal than the former governor of Massachusetts, no thanks. No, I need someone else to write in.
But, how do you go about picking the right person? My good friend had an interesting thought: perhaps the NCAA has the right idea when it uses a 64-team bracketed single-elimination tournament to crown a national champion.
So, I went with that model and developed my own brackets, starting first with the name of each bracket. I decided to name the regions after the four most conservative presidents of all time: Washington, Coolidge, Reagan, and Monroe.
And then I populated those brackets using a secret Al Gore Rhythm that balanced the powerbroker status of each potential candidate as well as his or her conservative street cred. Keep in mind the algorithm is pure math; it does not take into account one’s personal opinions about each of these candidates.
This is what it came up with…
Washington Region: 1. Dick Cheney, 2. John Boehner, 3. Tim Pawlenty, 4. John Bolton, 5. Matt Drudge, 6. Darrell Issa, 7. Rich Lowry, 8. Frank Luntz, 9. Roy Moore, 10. Glenn Beck, 11. Joe Wilson, 12. Karl Rove, 13. Ron Paul, 14. Carly Fiorina, 15. Michael Steele, 16. Duane “The Rock” Johnson.
Coolidge Region: 1. Rush Limbaugh, 2. Bobby Jindal, 3. Tom Coburn, 4. Mike Pence, 5. John McCain, 6. Mike Huckabee, 7. Herman Cain, 8. Dick Lugar, 9. Roger Ailes, 10. John Thune, 11. Meg Whitman, 12. David Petraeus, 13. Grover Norquist, 14. Allen West, 15. Robert Gates, 16. Buddy Roemer.
Reagan Region: 1. Sarah Palin, 2. Dick Armey, 3. Mitch McConnell, 4. Rand Paul, 5. Rick Perry, 6. Jim DeMint, 7. Newt Gingrich, 8. Alan Keyes, 9. Michele Bachmann, 10. Nikki Haley, 11. Bill Whittle, 12. Jon Voight, 13. Edwin Feulner, 14. Jeb Bush, 15. Kevin McCarthy, 16. Thaddeus McCotter.
Monroe Region: 1. Paul Ryan, 2. Eric Cantor, 3. Haley Barbour, 4. David Keene, 5. David Frum, 6. Rick Santorum, 7. Michael Blackburn, 8. Bob McDonnell, 9. Duncan Hunter, 10. J.C. Watts, 11. Jeff Flake, 12. Michael Savage, 13. Judd Gregg, 14. Rudy Giuliani, 15. Marco Rubio, 16. Mitch Daniels.
In the first round, and each subsequent round, I used each candidate’s conservative score from the original algorithm as the determining factor of victory. This produced a tremendous number of “upsets,” as one might expect given how popularity and Establishment backing have led to a lot of RINO’s in high places in the party.
History was made right off the bat when 16th-seeded “The Rock” used his WWE-produced charisma and popular-conservative viewpoints to upend top-seeded former Vice President Dick Cheney in the Washington bracket. Cheney was by far the top seed in the tournament, based largely on his power base than his conservative street cred, but it seems his heart just wasn’t in it.
[I promise, that’s the only time I’ll “go there” like that.]
Also in the Washington bracket, Roy Moore got the 9-8 upset over Frank Luntz, 12th-seeded Karl Rove squeaked by Matt Drudge, and Glenn Beck got the 10-7 upset over Rich Lowry. In the Coolidge bracket, John Thune got the 10-7 upset over Herman Cain, 12th-seeded Gen. Petraeus grounded John McCain, and 14 seed Allen West knocked off Tom Coburn.
In the Reagan bracket, 13th-seeded Heritage Foundation President Edwin Feulner ran away with it against one of the darlings of the GOP, Rand Paul, and 15th-seeded Kevin McCarthy ran over Dick Armey. In the Monroe Bracket, Watts got the 10-7 upset over Blackburn, and 13th-seeded Judd Gregg upset the four seed, David Keene.
All other first-round contests were won by the higher seed. In the second round, name recognition/power base played the bigger role in who advanced.
In the Washington bracket, Judge Moore knocked off “The Rock,” Bolton defeated “The Architect,” Darrell Issa beat Speaker Boehner, and T-Paw was a triple-overtime winner over Glenn Beck. In the Coolidge bracket, Limbaugh squeaked by Lugar, Pence rolled past Petraeus, West demolished Jindal, and Huckabee cruised past Thune.
In the Reagan bracket, Keyes rolled past Palin, and Feulner had no difficulties against Perry, while DeMint crushed McConnell, and Gingrich rallied late to beat McCarthy. Meanwhile, in the Monroe bracket, Ryan edged out McDonnell, Frum defeated Gregg, Santorum blew past Barbour, and Watts knocked off Cantor.
In the regional semifinal round, “The Sweet 16,” if you will, we had some very interesting matchups. In the Washington bracket, Moore beat Bolton, and it was Issa over T-Paw. In the Coolidge bracket, Pence stomped all over Lugar, and West squeaked out a double-overtime win over Huckabee.
In the Reagan bracket, Keyes beat out Feulner, while DeMint advanced past Gingrich. In the Monroe bracket, Gregg and Watts advanced past Ryan and Santorum, respectively.
In the “Elite Eight” regional championship round, each match-up was a nail biter. Issa squeezed past Moore, West edged out Pence, DeMint picked up a triple-overtime win against Keyes, and Watts got the win over Gregg. This set up “Final Four” match-ups of Darrell Issa vs. Allen West, and Jim DeMint vs. J.C. Watts.
Issa and DeMint each won closely contested matches to face each other in the championship… a coin-flip contest if there ever was one.
Darrell Issa is generally regarded as a bulldog on fiscal matters, voting “no” on both Stimulus I and TARP, the automotive industry bailout, and on loosening bankruptcy rules. But, he also voted in favor of the now-infamous “Cash for Clunkers” program, which doesn’t sit well with me.
Somehow, Issa also has developed a reputation of being a very strong pro-life and pro-family legislator in the U.S. House, but I’m very troubled by some of his votes with regard to embryonic stem cell research. He also voted to make the Patriot Act permanent, and his voting record on foreign policy is pretty scary.
Jim DeMint is so pro-life, he voted to extend SCHIP benefits to the unborn. He is equally pro-family with votes to ban gay marriage and gay adoption. Fiscally, he was adamantly opposed to any bailouts in 2008 and 2009, and he supported the overhaul of bankruptcy rules to make it more difficult to file, and to require partial repayment.
DeMint is reviled by all the right people and adored by all the right people. NEA, ACLU and NARAL have all given him sub-10 percent voting records, while NRLC, the Christian Coalition, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have given him 100 percent voting records. And, he was the only candidate to score a 100-percent conservative rating in or seeding algorithm.
So, it should be no surprise that DeMint could pull off the victory over Issa to win my write-in vote for President of the United States. So, who gets the vote for Vice President? Well, contrary to how the Founding Fathers probably would have liked it to go down, I’m going to look at my two “Final Four” losers to see how they stack up against Issa.
West already lost to Issa, so there’s no need to replay that matchup. But, J.C. Watts actually scores slightly better than Issa, particularly on pro-life and pro-family issues. On fiscal matters, they are nearly identical. They differ in areas that I don’t consider “hills to die on,” so I’m going to go with a DeMint-Watts ticket with my write-in votes.
If you’re reading this, thank a teacher. If you’re reading it in English, thank a soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine.
Eschliman is an Iowa journalist who has been covering government and politics for nearly 14 years. He is the founder of the Ben Franklin Journalism blog, which promotes greater citizen interaction with the media.