As to being political at Natls? It comes down to the samethings we see at international events. Many officials/judges (not all) tend to play their favorites and favors can be traded and repaid exactly the same way at natls as they are at intls.
Big boosters and wealthy skating patrons can play a part as can certain coache's friendship or history of animosity with judges and techpanel have an effect on the results.
What do you think we have been watching all of these years
ETA: I left out TV influence. Although I am a Sasha fan, NBC has made it known they wanted Sasha as part of the 2010 Olympic team. Her SP marks reflected as much. Sadly for NBC, nothing could save Sasha's trainwreck of an LP.
Had it been close the team would have been Sasha and Rachael.
Do you really think Evan would have been treated the same as Jeremy had he just missed the Natls podium by a point last season?