March Madness is in the air. Everybody's got their favorite to win the men's collegiate basketball championships, and the odds-makers in Vegas are hard at work determining the appropriate lines for each game. In honor of the NCAA tournament, we're breaking down the state of the current US Presidential race, bracket style.
Politics are important for stock markets—the tides of power and outcomes of elections contribute to regulatory force over free markets and economies. Additionally, political outcomes can cast huge clouds of uncertainty over investors' minds.
(One last thing before we begin: we maintain no bias and no endorsement of any candidate or political party. In the end we view them all as politicians, and that's a bad thing to us. We are forever skeptical of government.)
Bracket 1: The Donkey Division
The number one seed goes to Hillary Clinton. She's the juggernaut, with a seemingly insurmountable lead in popularity and fundraising thus far. Really, she's like the Duke University of politicians. Extremely polarizing, but always in the conversation and a perennial favorite to win.
The two seed is taken by Barack Obama. Charismatic and fresh-faced, he's the dark horse of the tournament. He's a relatively unseasoned politician, but Obama has made consistent gains on Ms. Clinton in recent months. When it comes to crunch time, can he perform?
The third and fourth seeds are a close race between Al Gore and John Edwards…both veterans of past Presidential races, and both long shots at the moment. Your bookie better be giving some pretty sweet odds on these guys to lure you to bet on either of these two.
Bracket 2: The Pachyderm Politicians
A surprise number one seed at the moment: Rudy Giuliani. He's the fan favorite—an Eisenhower-like hero of the country from his 9/11 days, and proven moderate leader after presiding over New York City in several terms. Very charismatic and should be capable of getting the moderate voter. Perhaps his largest handicap will be fundraising.
The second seed is the Blue Chipper, John McCain. McCain is like the North Carolina of politics. A generally stalwart Conservative Republican and seasoned veteran of both war and also politics, he's always in the running and many pick him to win the nomination in the end.
Mitt Romney is the only other serious contender at the moment, but at a distant third seed. He could win, but it would be a Cinderella story. Romney is truly the Gonzaga of the Presidential tourney. As a politician he's got excellent fundamentals, is focused and disciplined with great coaching, but ultimately he may not have the firepower to go all the way in 2008.
Who will win? It's way too early to tell. Just like no one is EVER able to pick all the NCAA brackets correctly, it's impossible to know exactly what will happen in the elections. Though it seems unlikely now, it's very common for frontrunners to fade over time and new candidates emerge that we'd never before even considered.
If you want to see what the ever-changing odds are in the US Presidential race, check www.intrade.com, which trades contracts on an open market tied to the nomination and election outcomes.
When it comes time to choose your favorite candidate for the bracket, what's the best strategy? How can we tell who's going to win the primaries and come out on top?
Come every election, policy makers and pundits hoot and holler about campaign reform. It's convenient and very aggrandizing for politicians' popularity to act as if they think there's too much money in the system, or that they care in the first place. It's comical how they rarely act in accord with such rhetoric.
More Money, No Problems
By Mark Schmitt, CBS News
While this is an interesting look at why higher spending on political campaigns might be a good thing by diminishing the clout of any single campaign contributor, it forgets the notion that the entire structure of how a candidate for President is chosen has drastically changed.
Schwarzenegger Signs Law To Move Up Primary
By Editorial Staff, Reuters
Once upon a time, primary races were spread out across many months, allowing candidates to campaign in a central area using grassroots methods and actually getting to know the voters.
That system is dying. Instead, most of the primaries are being moved up to February, where nearly all the elections will take place in a very concentrated period of time. This changes everything; this makes it all about the money. Running a national campaign in less than one month's time doesn't allow for grassroots and travel—you've got to spend, spend, spend. Advertisements and media are the only way to get the message out nationwide in a small amount of time.
Whoever can raise the most money has a huge advantage in winning the candidacy for their party because cash is almost always king in a big, national election.