Indianapolis Colts’ coach Chuck Pagano addresses the media following the 27-0 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Clark Wade / IndyStar
INDIANAPOLIS – Donald Trump keeps cracking down on the NFL, tweeting Monday that the league has “no leadership” as some players continue to kneel in silent protest during the national anthem. Debate around this issue leaves the the league in a tough position.
FiveThirtyEight explains in a data story published last week that the NFL’s fan base is “much more bipartisan than those of other major sports leagues, and it risks angering one side or the other if it mishandles the situation.”
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Their study found that the NBA, MLB and NHL are more popular in Democratic markets, while NCAA hoops, NASCAR and college football dominate Republican markets. But the NFL straddles the line, with nearly equal support from red and blue consumers.
Just two weeks ago, Indianapolis Colts fans were at the center of debate over protests during the anthem when Vice President Mike Pence walked out of a Colts game, saying he wouldn’t “dignify any event that disrespects our soldiers, our flag or our national anthem.”
Where did they ultimately side on the issue? It’s near impossible to say.
FiveThirtyEight can’t answer that, specifically, but they do offer some insight on how each NFL fan base leans politically. A survey of 2,290 American NFL fans conducted in early September helped them find all but seven teams’s fans are more left than right.
Teams with the heaviest Democratic lean:
- San Francisco (+ 22.0)
- Detroit (+19.5)
- New York Giants (+18.8)
- Baltimore (+18.0)
- Seattle (+14.8)
Teams with the heaviest Republican lean:
- Tampa Bay (+9.5)
- Houston (+5.0)
- Dallas (+2.7)
- Jacksonville (+2.4)
- Buffalo (+2.2)
Colts fans, according to the survey, are some of the most evenly dispersed politically in the entire league. They have a plus-4.9 Democratic lean, just below the plus-6.3 average.
Washington’s fans are just above the average line at plus-7.2.
FiveThirtyEight also highlighted an interesting point about New England Patriots fans:
The New England Patriots, despite being based in the Democratic bastion of Massachusetts, have a fan base that is slightly more Republican than the average team. The reason is that even though 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.
Find IndyStar sports producer Dakota Crawford on Twitter: @DakotaCrawford_.