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The annual rituals of March Madness are upon us, meaning many of us will be spending the next few days fervently rooting for some small college that we've never heard of before, in the hopes of eking a few dollars out of the office betting pool. If you're like us at Daily Kos Elections, though, you're probably looking at the NCAA tournament and thinking to yourself, "hmmm, that's kind of interesting, but it just doesn't contain enough politics."

So, we've rigged up a way to combine two things that we like: sports and election data. We've found a way to predict not only the winner of each game, but in fact the score of each game! All we do is simply identify what congressional district each participating university is in, take its Obama percentage from the 2012 election, and voila: you've got a bracket where the bluer teams beat the redder teams, until you finally arrive at the national champion of, well, being located in the most heavily Democratic place in the nation.

If you're still filling out your bracket, you may certainly feel free to follow our lead. If you have real money on the line, however, you probably don't actually want to pick Southern beating Gonzaga, or NC A&T beating Louisville ... this is more for entertainment purposes only.

To see who wins the title of true liberalism (or at least of being located in the most liberal place; it may not be much of a reflection on the actual student body), head below the fold:

Rather than attempt to reproduce all this information in illegibly tiny form on a bracket worksheet, we're going to present it in a more conventional text form, region by region. Here's a link to an actual bracket form, if you don't have one handy but want to transfer our data to one.


NC A&T (NC-12) d. Liberty (VA-06), 79-40
St. Mary's (CA-11) d. Middle Tenn. (TN-04), 68-33

NC A&T (NC-12) d. Louisville (KY-03), 79-56
Colorado St. (CO-02) d. Missouri (MO-04), 58-36
Oregon (OR-04) d. Oklahoma St. (OK-03), 52-26
St. Louis (MO-01) d. New Mexico St. (NM-02), 80-45
Memphis (TN-09) d. St. Mary's (CA-11), 78-68
Valparaiso (IN-01) d. Michigan St. (MI-08), 61-48
Cincinnati (OH-01) d. Creighton (NE-02), 46.3-46.0
Duke (NC-01) d. Albany (NY-20), 71-59

NC A&T (NC-12) d. Colorado St. (CO-02), 79-58
St. Louis (MO-01) d. Oregon (OR-04), 80-52
Memphis (TN-09) d. Valparaiso (IN-01), 78-61
Duke (NC-01) d. Cincinnati (OH-01), 71-46

St. Louis (NC-12) d. NC A&T (NC-12), 80-79
Memphis (TN-09) d. Duke (NC-01), 78-71

St. Louis (NC-12) d. Memphis (TN-09), 80-78


La Salle (PA-02) d. Boise St. (ID-01), 90-33

Southern (LA-02) d. Gonzaga (WA-05), 76-44
Pittsburgh (PA-14) d. Wichita St. (KS-04), 68-36
Wisconsin (WI-02) d. Ole Miss (MS-01), 68-37
La Salle (PA-02) d. Kansas St. (KS-01), 90-28
Arizona (AZ-07) d. Belmont (TN-05), 61-56
Harvard (MA-05) d. New Mexico (NM-01), 65-55
Iowa St. (IA-04) d. Notre Dame (IN-02), 45-42
Iona (NY-16) d. Ohio St. (OH-03), 74-70

Southern (LA-02) d. Pittsburgh (PA-14), 76-68
La Salle (PA-02) d. Wisconsin (WI-02), 90-68
Harvard (MA-05) d. Arizona (AZ-07), 65-61
Iona (NY-16) d. Iowa St. (IA-04), 74-45

La Salle (PA-02) d. Southern (LA-02), 90-76
Iona (NY-16) d. Harvard (MA-05), 74-65

La Salle (PA-02) d. Iona (NY-16), 90-74


Kansas (KS-02) d. W. Kentucky (KY-02), 42-35
N. Carolina (NC-04) d. Villanova (PA-07), 71-49
Akron (OH-11) d. VCU (VA-03), 83-79
Michigan (MI-12) d. S. Dakota St. (SD-AL), 66-40
Minnesota (MN-05) d. UCLA (CA-33), 74-61
Northwestern St. (LA-04) d. Florida (FL-03), 40-37
San Diego St. (CA-53) d. Oklahoma (OK-04), 61-33
Georgetown (DC-AL) d. Florida Gulf Coast (FL-19), 91-39

N. Carolina (NC-04) d. Kansas (KS-02), 71-42
Akron (OH-11) d. Michigan (MI-12), 83-66
Minnesota (MN-05) d. Northwestern St. (LA-04), 74-40
Georgetown (DC-AL) d. San Diego St. (CA-53), 91-61

Akron (OH-11) d. N. Carolina (NC-04), 83-71
Georgetown (DC-AL) d. Minnesota (MN-05), 91-74

Georgetown (DC-AL) d. Akron (OH-11), 91-83


LIU Brooklyn (NY-08) d. James Madison (VA-06), 89-40

LIU Brooklyn (NY-08) d. Indiana (IN-09), 89-41
Temple (PA-02) d. NC St. (NC-04), 90-71
Cal (CA-13) d. UNLV (NV-01), 88-66
Syracuse (NY-24) d. Montana (MT-AL), 57-42
Butler (IN-07) d. Bucknell (PA-10), 63-38
Marquette (WI-04) d. Davidson (NC-09), 75-43
Colorado (CO-02) d. Illinois (IL-13), 58-49
Pacific (CA-09) d. Miami (FL-27), 58-53

Temple (PA-02) d. LIU Brooklyn (NY-08), 90-89
Cal (CA-13) d. Syracuse (NY-24), 88-57
Marquette (WI-04) d. Butler (IN-07), 75-63
Colorado (CO-02) d. Pacific (CA-09), 57.9-57.8

Temple (PA-02) d. Cal (CA-13), 90-88
Marquette (WI-04) d. Colorado (CO-02), 75-58

Temple (PA-02) d. Marquette (WI-04), 90-75

And the winner is...

La Salle (PA-02) d. St. Louis (MO-01), 90-80
Georgetown (DC-AL) d. Temple (PA-02), 91-90

Georgetown (DC-AL) d. La Salle (PA-02), 91-90

One thing I learned while living in the City of Brotherly Love is to not get in the crosshairs of an angry Philadelphia sports fan, and yet that's exactly what I've done here ... no doubt bricks are already hurtling on their way toward my window, wrapped inside missives informing me that Georgetown should be DQ'd because they aren't even in an actual congressional district. Well, I could hem and haw and point out they still do get a House delegate who can vote on committees, just not on the House floor... or I could point to the need to avoid the paradox of a championship game fought between two teams from the same Congressional district, PA-02, ending in an infinite stalemate of multiple overtimes.

Or, we could try and avoid that problem by switching to a whole different type of jurisdiction, which surely would generate different results, right? So, instead of basing the exercise on congressional districts, let's try it using the other category for which electoral data is readily available: counties (and county equivalents). I'm not going to reproduce the entire bracket, only the Sweet Sixteen. And the winner is... still the Hoyas.

St. Louis (St. Louis city, MO) d. NC A&T (Guilford, NC), 83-58
Duke (Durham, NC) d. Memphis (Shelby, TN), 76-63
La Salle (Philadelphia, PA) d. Pittsburgh (Allegheny, PA), 85-57
Harvard (Middlesex, MA) d. Iona (Westchester, NY), 63-62
VCU (Richmond city, VA) d. N. Carolina (Orange, NC), 78-70
Georgetown (Washington, DC) d. UCLA (Los Angeles, CA), 91-70
Temple (Philadelphia, PA) d. Cal (Alameda, CA), 85-79
Colorado (Boulder, CO) d. Marquette (Milwaukee, WI), 70-68

St. Louis (St. Louis city, MO) d. Duke (Durham, NC), 83-76
La Salle (Philadelphia, PA) d. Harvard (Middlesex, MA), 85-63
Georgetown (Washington, DC) d. VCU (Richmond city, VA), 91-78
Temple (Philadelphia, PA) d. Colorado (Boulder, CO), 85-70

La Salle (Philadelphia, PA) d. St. Louis (St. Louis city, MO), 85-83
Georgetown (Washington, DC) d. Temple (Philadelphia, PA), 91-85

Georgetown (Washington, DC) d. La Salle (Philadelphia, PA), 91-85

Although the Final Four is exactly the same, there are a few differences below that, thanks to the vagaries of district lines. For instance, note that Akron, which fared very well under the congressional district model, doesn't even make it out of the first round under the county model (losing to Virginia Commonwealth). While the University of Akron benefits from the Ohio GOP's gerrymander that linked the central parts of the city of Akron with Cleveland to pack as many NE Ohio black voters as possible into one district (OH-11, at 82.8% Obama), the county where it's located (Summit County) isn't majority-black and is only light-blue (at 57.2% Obama).

So is there any hope for Hoya haters? Washington, DC was actually not the bluest county in the country in the 2012 elections, at 90.9% Obama. It lagged Shannon County, South Dakota (at 93.4% Obama), and Bronx County, New York (at 91.4%). There is one Div I school in the Bronx—Fordham—but they aren't participating in the NCAA tournament this year. If they were participating, they, and not Georgetown, would be the tops. That applies as well if we used congressional districts as the metric instead: Fordham is located in the nation's bluest CD too, Jose Serrano's NY-15, which clocks in at 96.7% Obama.

Now maybe you're wondering, what would this look like if we turned everything upside down, advanced the teams in the reddest districts, and made the reddest university the winner? Well, we were wondering that too, and here's how it looks. Note that in this case, we're substituting Romney 2012 percentages, instead of Obama percentages. (And, again, in the interest of space, we're limiting it to the Sweet Sixteen.)

Oklahoma St. (OK-03) d. Missouri (MO-04), 74-61
Middle Tenn (TN-04) d. Creighton (NE-02), 65-53
Kansas St. (KS-01) d. Wichita St. (KS-04), 70-62
Notre Dame (IN-02) d. Belmont (TN-05), 56-43
W. Kentucky (KY-02) d. S. Dakota St. (SD-AL), 63-58
Oklahoma (OK-04) d. Florida (FL-03), 67-62
James Madison (VA-06) d. Montana (MT-AL), 59-55
Bucknell (PA-10) d. Illinois (IL-13), 60-49

Oklahoma St. (OK-03) d. Middle Tenn (TN-04), 74-65
Kansas St. (KS-01) d. Notre Dame (IN-02), 70-56
Oklahoma (OK-04) d. W. Kentucky (KY-02), 67-63
Bucknell (PA-10) d. James Madison (VA-06), 60-59

Oklahoma St. (OK-03) d. Kansas St. (KS-01), 74-70
Oklahoma (OK-04) d. Bucknell (PA-10), 67-60

Oklahoma St. (OK-03) d. Oklahoma (OK-04), 74-67

As you can see, it's an all-Sooner State finale in the "red" bracket, an illustration of just how bleak Democratic prospects are in Oklahoma. Unlike what we saw on the Democratic side, though, OK-03 is by no means the most conservative CD in the country; there are in fact 14 districts that are even redder. The Div I school that would take the honors if it were in the NCAA tournament this year should be no surprise: it's Brigham Young, located in UT-03 (78% Romney). UT-03 is only the nation's second-most conservative CD, though. The absolute top is the Amarillo-area TX-13, which doesn't contain any Div I schools at all.

If you're wondering how the "red" bracket fares if you switch it to counties, it, like the "blue" bracket, stays pretty much the same: You get three of the same Final Four, and Oklahoma St. still defeats Oklahoma for the championship. The appropriately named Payne County, Oklahoma, is the reddest county with any of the participating teams in it, at 64% Romney. The only change in the Final Four is the removal of Kansas St. (which is located in Riley County, an island of, well, less-red in a sea of dark red in rural KS-01; Riley County is 55% Romney, meaning it doesn't even get past Boise St. in the first round) and the replacement of it with Wichita St. (where Sedgwick County clocks in at 58% Obama).

If I can be serious for a moment, there's actually something instructive that we might take away from all this, about the difficulty the Democrats face in taking back the House. Take a look at the difference in the scores between the "blue" and "red" brackets; the winning teams in the "blue" bracket are scoring in the 80s or even low 90s, while on the "red" side, they're barely into the 70s. That only underscores just how much—even leaving the pernicious effects of gerrymandering aside—the Democrats "waste" votes by having their voters so thoroughly concentrated in the nation's urban areas. The Republicans, as you can see, have their votes distributed much more efficiently throughout the country. By spreading their votes thinner among more districts, they're able to maintain a House majority despite receving a minority of all House votes in the 2012 election.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Elections on Wed Mar 20, 2013 at 12:17 PM PDT.

Also republished by The Wide World of Sports and Daily Kos.

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