TAMPA, Fla. — A report on a popular data-driven website reveals the National Football League's fan base is much more bipartisan than in other sports leagues, and that means officials risk angering one side or the other if they mishandle controversies.
One of the most high-profile situations the NFL has dealt with in recent years is the dispute over whether players should kneel during the national anthem. Participating athletes have said they are protesting racial injustice, while President Donald Trump has repeatedly chastised them for disrespecting the American flag.
After the 2016 election, popular statistical analysis website FiveThirtyEight calculated fan interest in pro sports markets based on search-engine traffic, then compared it to President Trump's vote share in the election.
"Among the sports leagues we considered, the NFL had the most search traffic and the least partisan fan base," the website found. "There is basically no correlation between how Democratic or Republican an area is and how often its residents made NFL-related searches."
But, the research didn't stop there.
FiveThirtyEight commissioned a poll of 2,290 NFL fans. And, it yielded a noteworthy result for Floridians.
Out of all the NFL franchises the website studied, fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were actually the most politically-divided. The research found Bucs fans identified more with Republicans than Democrats.
The most Democratic-leaning NFL audience can be found in San Francisco, the poll found.
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