GOP Bracketology — July Version


Tournament-BracketNow that Scott Walker’s in the race, with John Kasich on tap for next week, the GOP’s 2016 field soon will total 16 presidential candidates. We can rank them, 1-16. Or go by tiers. Or pick names out of a hat. My choice: divide the field into four brackets, four candidates apiece, which I’ve done in this column over at

Bracket One — The Non-Conformists

1. Donald Trump

2. Ted Cruz

3. Carly Fiorina

4. Ben Carson

My rationale: (1) Trump gets the top seed because, for better or worse, it’s been the summer of Donald (sorry, George Constanza); (2) Cruz is coming off a second-quarter money haul that was pretty impressive; (3) Carly’s wowing them on the trail, but she needs to build the brand beyond Hillary smackdowns (that, and step up the fundraising); (4) Carson is holding steady in most polls, but the non-politician space is a lot more crowded than it was this spring, when he announced.


Bracket Two — Count (On Us) to 270

1. Jeb Bush

2. Marco Rubio

3. John Kasich

4. Chris Christie

I rank this group (committed to the proposition of life, liberty, and the pursuit of swing states) in this order because: (1) Money can’t buy Jeb love, but it gives him quite the machine; (2) Rubio shines given the chance to tell his family’s life story and flash his policy chops; (3) If Bush or Rubio falter, Kasich would seem the logical beneficiary; (4) as a candidate going for broke (and maybe going broke) in New Hampshire, Christie’s running in a tough terrain.


Bracket Three — The Right Stuff

1. Scott Walker

2. Rick Perry

3. Lindsey Graham

4. Rick Santorum

Ok, ok, I know Graham drives some conservative nuts, but he’s attempting to brand himself as the biggest hawk in the field. National security is one pillar of conservatism, as are individual rights and curbing government (Walker’s shtick); deregulation/economic growth (Perry’s); and faith and values (Santorum’s).

As for the order of this bracket: (1) I believe Walker is the one candidate in the GOP field best positioned to win early and often; (2) I consider Perry something of an undervalued stock; (3) Graham’s stuck in the back of the pack, but each week he gets a hanging curveball (ISIS, the Iran deal, etc.); (4) Santorum, Iowa’s winner in 2012 and perhaps one of the odd-men-out for the Fox News debate, wants to be more than a pro-life candidate.


Bracket Four — Trying To Make The Cut

1. Mike Huckabee

2. Rand Paul

3. Bobby Jindal

4. George Pataki

These would be the victims in the numbers game — too many candidates, too little space. They’re seeded this way because: (1) Huckabee no longer is a novel act — though still a force in Iowa, repeating 2008’s magic will be difficult; (2) Paul, despite the family name and libertarian base, has a foreign-policy record that may be too big of an albatross; (3) Jindal struggles to find a niche with seven other governors a-runnin’; (4) Pataki is the GOP’s plover, feeding off Trump (for example, daring The Donald to an immigration debate in New Hampshire).

This bracket isn’t scientific, nor is it set in cement. You could place Walker in the 270 bracket, as part of his appeal is strength in the Upper Midwest. Carson, Huckabee, and Santorum all talk about their personal faith. Add Perry, vintage 2008, and there’s a new four-man bracket. Just as Huckabee, Paul, Perry, and Santorum could go into a “carry-over” bracket of past candidates (the younger Paul standing in for his father).

Stay tuned for when the field swells to 32 and we have another four brackets to fill.

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  1. user_549556 Member

    The Non-Conformists

    I’d prefer “resolute,” but the brackets look good.

    • #1
  2. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane

    Might I make a suggestion: choose one of the many powerful voting systems developed over the years instead of the bracket approach (aka, Sequential pair-wise voting).  In fact, what would be fun would be to try out different voting schemes each week:

    Range voting is a good choice:  it uses a ratings ballot where each voter rates each candidate with a number within a specified range, such as 0 to 10…The scores for each candidate are summed, and the candidate with highest sum is the winner.

    Range voting allows voters to express preferences of varying strengths.

    Range voting satisfies the monotonicity criterion, i.e. raising your vote’s score for a candidate can never hurt their chances of winning, and lowering it can never help their chances. Also, range voting satisfies the participation criterion, i.e. casting a sincere vote can never result in a worse election winner (from your point of view) than if you had simply abstained from voting.

    Range voting is independent of clones in the sense that if there is a set of candidates such that every voter gives the same rating to every candidate in this set, then the probability that the winner is in this set is independent of how many candidates are in the set.

    In summary, range voting satisfies the monotonicity criterion, the participation criterion, the consistency criterionindependence of irrelevant alternativesresolvability criterionreversal symmetry etc …

    • #2
  3. Ricochet Member

    Bracket 3 — The Right Stuff  ???? Lindsey Graham  ????

    I would vote for Hillary Clinton before I would vote for Lindsey Graham; and I would never vote for Hillary Clinton.

    Need to a create a Losers bracket.

    • #3
  4. @thebaldtruth Inactive

    I’m holding out for Thad McCotter.

    • #4
  5. user_202585 Member

    I do not see how to vote, so I will vote in public.

    Round One

    Bracket One:

    Ben Carson (4 seed) (or any sentient life form) over Donald Trump (1)

    Carly Florina (3) over Ted Crus (2)

    Bracket Two:

    Jeb Bush (1) over Chris Christie (4)

    Marco Rubio (2) over John Kasich (3)

    Bracket Three:

    Scott Walker (1) over Rick Santorum (4)

    Lindsey Graham (3) over Rick Perry (2)

    Bracket Four

    George Pataki (4) over Mike Huckabee (1)

    Bobby Jindal (3) over Rand Paul (2)

    Round Two

    Bracket One

    Carly Florina (3) over Ben Carson (4)

    Bracket Two

    Marco Rubio (2) over Jeb Bush (1)

    Bracket Three

    Scott Walker (1) over Lindsey Graham (3)

    Bracket Four

    Bobby Jindal (3) over George Pataki (4)

    Final Four

    Since I do know know how the brackets will be arranged, I will put them in order:

    1.  Marco Rubio

    2.  Carly Florina (#1 Veep choice, or Secretary of Treasury)

    3.  Scott Walker (#2 Veep choice, or Secretary of Labor)

    4.  Bobby Jindal (Secretary of HHS)

    PS  I’d love to see a Dream Cabinet.  My nominations:

    Secretary of State:  Jeb Bush

    Secretary of Defense:  Lindsey Graham

    Attorney General:  Ted Cruz

    Secretary of Treasury:  Carly Fiorina

    Secretary of Agriculture:  Mike Huckabee

    Secretary of Interior:  Rand Paul

    Secretary of Labor:  Scott Walker

    Secretary of Commerce:  Carly Fiorina or Jeb Bush

    Secretary of HHS:  Bobby Jindal

    Secretary of Education:  Chris Christie or Ben Carson

    Secretary of HUD:  George Pataki

    U.S. Supreme Court:  Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham

    Surgeon General:  Ben Carson

    • #5
  6. Frozen Chosen Inactive
    Frozen Chosen

    There needs to be a vertical line in the middle of the bracket where Mitt swoops in at the convention to save the day ;)

    • #6
  7. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane

    Re #5.

    Fun stuff, really fun.  It will spur a lot of discussion, making public choices and then weathering the criticism for some of them.  However…

    If you really want to gauge who will end up the victor in the nomination process, this doesn’t do more than give you each respondent’s favorite pick.  You can process those statistics to discover who is picked most frequently, but that “winner” will only have ~10-15% of vote….So how much do we really learn then.  We need a better voting scheme, one that accounts for members 2nd and 3rd picks, along with the relative strength of those attachments, in order to aggregate with more confidence.

    I will try and explain better what I mean here soon.

    Still, great fun so far…

    • #7
  8. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane

    (At the risk of hijacking a thread) If anyone wants to try the Range Voting System, to provide a generally well respected scheme by which to ‘best’ select a single candidate from a list, you would resubmit the list below with 10 votes apportioned (in front of the name) in any way you want among the candidates.  I would undertake to sum these up and provide a running account of who is leading the pack, how the field looks in comparison:

    __Jeb Bush (1)

    __Ben Carson (2)

    __Chris Christie (3) 

    __Ted Cruz (4)

    __Carly Florina (5)

    __Lindsey Graham (6)

    __Mike Huckabee (7)

    __Bobby Jindal (8)

    __John Kasich (9)

    __George Pataki (10)

    __Rick Perry (11)

    __Rand Paul (12)

    __Marco Rubio (13)

    __Rick Santorum (14)

    __Donald Trump (15)

    __Scott Walker (16)

    • #8
  9. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane

    Here is my offering to start the voting off:

    (remember total of 10 votes – apportioned freely)

    #Votes_Candidate Name (alphabetical order)

    __Jeb Bush (1)

    __Ben Carson (2)

    1_Chris Christie (3)

    __Ted Cruz (4)

    __Carly Florina (5)

    __Lindsey Graham (6)

    __Mike Huckabee (7)

    __Bobby Jindal (8)

    1_John Kasich (9)

    __George Pataki (10)

    2_Rick Perry (11)

    __Rand Paul (12)

    3_Marco Rubio (13)

    __Rick Santorum (14)

    __Donald Trump (15)

    3_Scott Walker (16)

    • #9
  10. user_549556 Member

    Manfred Arcane, have you noticed that box at the top right of the page labeled Start A Conversation? Just saying…

    • #10
  11. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator

    Where do we vote to take Big Bird off of welfare?

    • #11
  12. Manfred Arcane Inactive
    Manfred Arcane

    Vince Guerra:Manfred Arcane, have you noticed that box at the top right of the page labeled Start A Conversation? Just saying…

    Sorry.  Shall I take this elsewhere?

    • #12
  13. Ball Diamond Ball Inactive
    Ball Diamond Ball

    As an alternative, we could institute a crash program to resume construction of the superconducting supercollider around Waxahatchie, TX, and then accelerate pairs of candidates in opposite directions around the ring.

    Democrats go on the linear accelerator.

    • #13
  14. Songwriter Inactive

    Santorum and Jindal should be switched. Santorum is a non-starter. Jindal really has the “right stuff.”

    • #14
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