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Baseball Allegiances among Florida Voters

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Rays, Braves top a poll of 1,012 registered Florida voters.

Bethany Clarke/Getty Images

For those of us who are as obsessed with politics as we are with baseball (which may only be Nate Silver, Keith Olbermann, and me, but that’s a start), gaining insight into the demographic and ideological characteristics of baseball fan bases is pretty intriguing.

Recently Public Policy Polling conducted a survey of 1,012 registered Florida voters, largely to assess the outlook for the November Senate race (for the seat Marco Rubio is vacating to run for president) along with some other important statewide issues such as legalizing medical marijuana.

At the end of this survey they included three questions about sports affiliations, asking respondents to name their favorite college and professional football team, as well as their favorite baseball team.  I’ve summarized their baseball results in the table below. For those who want to see the full survey, it’s available here.

Rays, Braves and Marlins in the lead

The Rays and Braves are the most popular teams among those surveyed at 13%, with the Marlins a close second with 12 %. By way of comparison, 29 % of those surveyed were Gators fans, and 20% identified as Miami Dolphins fans.

A few notes on how to read (and how not to read) the table.

The top line of results shows the percentage of all 1,012 respondents identifying with each team.  The subsequent rows show the percentage of each subcategory of respondents who identify with each team.  This table does not suggest, for example, that 13% of all Rays fans voted for Obama; rather, it tells us that 13% of the Obama voters responding to this survey chose the Rays as their favorite baseball team.

The interesting cells, then, are those in which the percentages are much higher or lower than the percentage in the first row.  If 5% of respondents are Mets fans, but 10% of those who call themselves "very conservative" are Mets fans, then there’s a suggestion that very conservative voters are over-represented in Florida among those who like the Mets.

I’ve indicated some of the outliers that could be fodder for discussion in bold type. To be clear, this analysis is not scientifically rigorous or significant in any real way. I have done no real statistical analysis (and none was included in the report) so I really can’t claim that any of these differences are statistically significant.

The margin of error for the full sample was just over 3%, but as we slice the respondent group into these different fan bases the results become increasingly unreliable.

It’s really just an entertaining way to think about the intersection of baseball fandom and other characteristics. With that in mind, let's jump in:

Baseball Allegiances (by percentage of respondents)

From:  Public Policy Polling

Rays

Braves

Marlins

Yankees

Mets

Red Sox

Other/not a baseball fan

All Respondents

13%

13

12

10

5

9

38

2012 Pres. Vote

2012 Obama

13

13

12

9

6

7

41

2012 Romney

14

14

10

10

5

12

35

2012 someone else/don’t remember

9

6

27

11

2

3

42

Ideology

Very Liberal

19

10

7

6

4

10

44

Somewhat Liberal

11

14

11

11

7

9

37

Moderate

9

14

14

13

6

8

36

Somewhat Conservative

17

13

11

11

3

10

36

Very Conservative

13

15

15

3

3

8

43

Gender

Male

12

13

14

9

6

11

36

Female

14

13

11

11

4

7

40

Party

Republican

16

14

10

11

5

11

33

Democrat

12

16

14

8

6

7

38

Other

8

7

13

11

4

8

49

Race/

Ethnicity

Hispanic

10

12

23

9

4

7

36

White

15

14

7

11

4

11

39

African-American

10

15

22

9

8

2

35

Other

6

3

19

--

14

11

47


Rays Braves Marlins Yankees Mets Red Sox

Other/not a baseball fan

A few observations:

  • Rays fans appear to be somewhat ideologically polarized, with "very liberal" and "somewhat conservative" fans over-represented.  Should make for some interesting chats on the beer line.  Same is true for those who just don’t like baseball.
  • I love that the Marlins are the team of those who have no idea whom they voted for in 2012. Of course since this category was "other" or "don’t remember" it could be that Marlins fans were all on the Gary Johnson (Libertarian Party) or Jill Stein (Green Party) bandwagon.  But I prefer to think that they are just forgetful.
  • New York and Boston combined for 24% of those surveyed, teams in Florida combined for 25%.
  • Who here is as shocked as I am to see that the Red Sox have virtually no African-American fans?
  • On the other hand, the Marlins are clearly a team with appeal to people of color.  White fans, not so much.
  • I was curious to see whether male and female respondents had dramatically different levels of baseball engagement. In fact the discrepancies by gender aren’t that large – I’ve indicated the percentage of men (36%) and women (40%) who either follow other teams or don’t follow baseball in bold.

Concluding Thoughts

Surveying registered voters, which the pollsters did here, makes sense if you are predicting a senate race.  It doesn’t make sense for studying sports loyalties, however, so the 1,012 voters surveyed here may not be an appropriate survey population if we really wanted to dig into these questions.

A stronger population may have been 1,012 sports fans who are registered voters, but alas, as many as 385 respondents were not fans of the sport. 38% fit in the other category -- which includes non-baseball fans. Even still, it's nice to see one source that has the Rays fanbase well ahead of any one team in the snowbird population.