Or just a savvy politician?
Brad Smith, an undergraduate political science student at the University of North Carolina, entertains himself during tournament lulls:
Stated explicitly, the question I hope to answer here is: "Does Obama systematically favor teams from "swing states" when filling out his NCAA bracket?" . . . To test bias towards swing states I developed a very simple measure that I call the "pander score." This score assigns a value to each state for a given year that is equal to the difference in Obama's bracket and the ESPN national aggregate bracket's predictions about the total number of wins that teams from a given state will achieve throughout the tournament. By using ESPN's national bracket as a control group, this test compares Obama's predictions to the aggregated predictions of a large group, allowing me to identify in a quantifiable way to what degree Obama's predictions differ from that of the "average" individual.
As the results indicate, there is a positive relationship between a team's location in a swing state and the number of wins that Obama predicts that that team will achieve throughout the tournament. Furthermore, this relationship is strongly statistically significant well beyond the 95% level of confidence. Considering that the pander score measures the difference between Obama's predictions and the national average, this positive and strongly significant correlation provides strong support for the notion that Obama's bracket picks were influenced by his desire to appeal to swing state voters.
What fun. Even more interesting would be to think about Obama’s preferences within the swing states. For example, I suspect that a Duke pick (who it looks like the President had losing to Baylor) is unlikely to resonate with North Carolina voters nearly so much as his UNC or NC State picks.
The President's bracket is below.
HT: Kindred Winecoff