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Tuesday, July 6, 2010
NCAA tourney wins help Obama's ratings?

By Diamond Leung

President Obama, the so-called bracketologist-in-chief, now has another reason to love college basketball.

A study that researchers reported today in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows that a team's NCAA tournament success can lead to increased approval of Obama's job performance in the minds of fans of that team.

In a study led by economists from Loyola Marymount and Stanford, researchers wanted to find out whether or not events irrelevant to government performance can effect evaluations of that incumbent's performance and also voting behavior.

Apparently, they do.

Researchers polled 3,040 residents of regions with teams that made it to the Sweet 16 of the 2009 NCAA tournament. After the Sweet 16 and Elite Eight concluded, the fans were asked if they approved or disapproved of the way Obama was handling his job.

The study found that the relative success of a fan's team in the tournament had a positive effect on the approval rating given to Obama. And the percentage point increase was greater for fans who considered themselves strong supporters of their teams and closely followed the tournament.

The study also found that the effect mood has on making political evaluations of the incumbent appears to be subconscious. This is because half the respondents were reminded of the outcomes of the games before answering the Obama question. Fans who were more conscious of why they were in good moods seemed to be able to set that aside, with the effect of college basketball results on their judgments of Obama being measured at basically zero.

The conclusions of the study seem understandable. After all, when your team is doing well, isn't there a sense that all seems right in the world?