I came across an interesting tid-bit in recent days that shows Detroit Lions supporters represent the second-most liberal fan base, considering their political inclinations, in the National Football League.
In fact, the Lions’ loyalty is second only to San Francisco fans in their liberal tilt.
In September 2017, at the height of the controversy over NFL players kneeling during the pre-game national anthem, the 538 website (fivethirtyeight.com) conducted an interesting poll of nearly 2,300 football fanatics within the television markets of all 32 pro teams.
The folks at 538, who specialize in identifying cross-connections between sports fans and the political universe, found that the Top Five liberal fan bases (see chart below) are in San Francisco, Detroit, New York (the Giants), Baltimore and Seattle. The numbers are based on fans’ favorite political party, Democrat vs. Republican, while a big chunk of respondents self-identify as independents.
That poll outcome is rather odd because Michigan, especially its blue-collar voters, is widely viewed as a state that helped put Trump over the top in his surprising 2016 presidential win. What’s more, while the city of Detroit is overwhelmingly Democratic, it seems that the suburbs of southeast Michigan, which are far more mixed in their political views, dominate the Lions fan base. Yet, maybe the poll was a precursor to the November 2018 elections that featured big Democratic gains in Michigan.
The survey found that the most pro-Trump/GOP fans are those rooting for Tampa Bay, Houston, Dallas, Jacksonville and (what?) Buffalo.
538 acknowledged that fan bases sometimes extend well beyond their television market, though I doubt that is a major factor when identifying Lions fans versus, let’s say, those who cheer for the Denver Broncos.
At the same time, some eye-catching poll results can be explained rather readily, based on geography.
For example: The New England Patriots, despite being based in the Democratic bastion of Massachusetts, have a fan base that extends throughout the New England states and therefore is slightly more Republican than the average team. While New England fans who live in Massachusetts are overwhelmingly Democratic, the Patriots fans who live outside of Massachusetts (of whom there are many) are much more Republican than the average NFL fan.