November Madness: The 2016 Republican Presidential Bracket

Who will make it to the Final Four – and who will get bounced out?

By Rhonda FanningMarch 31, 2015 9:00 pm|

The NCAA men’s basketball tournament is down to the final four. It kicked off two weeks ago when 64 teams began competing to represent their region in the finals. And just like that tournament, the announcement by Texas Senator Ted Cruz tipped off the race for the GOP nomination for president.

In a contest that will likely have it’s own share of surprises, Dan Schnur, USC’s director of the Unruh School of Politics, says he’s ready to break out the probable candidates into their own brackets.

“Just like the NCAA tournament, there are so many teams and so many competitors, it’s very hard to get a handle on all of them,” Schnur says. “That’s the same case with the early stages of the republican presidential nomination; they’ve never had this many competitors before.”

Schnur, a former advisor to GOP presidential nominee John McCain, says the analogy came easily to him.

“I thought just the same way the NCAA divides it’s teams into regions, we should do the same thing with republican primary contenders,” he says. “The difference though is, in addition to dividing these regions by geography, we thought it made sense to divide them by ideology as well.”

One of those categories is the ‘Eastern Establishment Regional,’ which Schnur says analyzes Jeb Bush’s nominee prospects.

“Just like Duke or Kentucky in basketball, the Bushes are a veritable dynasty when it comes to Republican party politics,” Shnur says. “And even though they’ve got some very strong Texas roots, ultimately the Bushes represent the eastern establishment, and Jeb Bush gets the top seed here.”

According to Schnur’s bracket, Florida Senator Marco Rubio gets the second seed of the Eastern Establishment, followed by New Jersey Governor Chris Christy, who’s been dogged by media attention following bridgegate. Coming in last in that conference is Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

“Just like in the NCAA basketball tournament, we’ll sometimes move a competitor out of their natural geographic region in order to establish some kind of competitive balance,” Schnur says.

His ‘Midwestern Managers’ fall prey to that logic, with former Texas governor Rick Perry taking the number two seed.

“Now that Rick Perry’s wearing those glasses, he looks more like a business man and manager than a populist anyway,” Schnur says. “So although the rookie Scott Walker out of Wisconsin takes the top spot there anyway, Rick Perry is a strong number two seed, followed by John Kasich of Ohio and Mike Pence, the governor of Indiana.”

Schnur also divides the country into the ‘Southern Faith-Based Regional,’ which includes a lot of Texas voters, and the ‘Western Rebelllion’ Regional, which contains Texas’ own Ted Cruz.

We’ve taken Schnur’s proposed bracket and gave it the tournament treatment. Who will make it to the Final Four – and who will get bounced out? Fill out your own and send it to us on Twitter @TexasStandard (click the bracket below for a PDF download).

Click for PDF download