Exploring the Rays Popularity through Polling: 2015

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(This is an update to my original post in 2014.)

Since 2001, Public Policy Polling has conducted surveys to get a feel for the opinions of the American people. While most of their polls are political, they sometimes ask sports-related questions.

Beginning in 2011, and continuing in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015, the folks at PPP asked Florida residents about their preference of baseball teams, to include the Rays.

This chart depicts the percent of people who favor the Rays over any other team.

Rays popularity 2011 to 2015

Other teams receiving votes in 2015 included the Braves (17%), Yankees (14%), Marlins (12%), Red Sox (8%), Cubs (6%), Phillies (3%), Mets (2%), and Other/Not a Baseball Fan (27%).

Rays popularity went up 1% and the sample size increased 37.35% in 2015. However, there doesn’t seem to be a pattern between larger sample size and popularity. Nor does a smaller sample size match with higher popularity.

Rays Popularity by Gender

The following chart depicts the Rays popularity among women and men who prefer the Rays over any other team:

Rays Popularity M-F

The following graph depicts the previous chart:

Rays Popularity M-F graph

Here we see a dramatic drop in Rays statewide preference from 2011 to 2014 across men and women. In the 2015 poll, the percentage of men preferring the Rays increased to a level higher than 2013 and 2014. Meanwhile, the amount of women preferring the Rays stayed the same.

Rays Popularity by Political Party

The following chart depicts the percentages of people who prefer the Rays segmented by political party.

Rays Popularity by politics

The following graph depicts the previous chart:

Rays Popularity by politics graph

In 2015, Independent/Others and Democrat preference for the Rays increased and Republican preference decreased. Republican fan support for the Rays has decreased 57% since the high point in 2011 and 2012.

Rays Popularity by Race

The following chart depicts the percentages of people who prefer the Rays segmented by race.

Rays Popularity by race

The following graph depicts the previous chart:

Rays Popularity by race graph

As Rays popularity among Others and Whites went up 2% and 1%, respectively, and stayed the same among African-Americans, it continued to plummet among Hispanics statewide. In 2012, 18% of Florida Hispanics preferred the Rays. In 2015, this level fell to 5%. That’s is not good at all.

Rays Popularity by Age Group

The following chart depicts the percentages of people who prefer the Rays segmented by age:

Rays Popularity by age

The following graph depicts the previous chart:

Rays Popularity by age graph

There is a lot of good news here. Rays popularity among every age segment either went up or stayed the same. Most promising is the 5% gain among the 18-29 demographic. Although none of the levels are where they were in 2012, gains are a good thing.

Gains/Losses since 2014

The following chart shows gains or losses for each segment between 2014 and 2015.

2015 results

The Rays gained in popularity among 8 segments, 3 segments showed no gain or loss, and two segments had decreases. Unfortunately for the Rays, the two segments that dropped are two very important segments. According to this 2012 ABC News study, Republicans see baseball more favorably than any other sport. And according to the Florida Division of Elections, there are 467,920 Republicans in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties and 4,182,150 registered Republicans statewide.

According to the Pew Research Center, there are also over 4 million Hispanics in Florida and Hispanics make up 23% of the state population. While the Rays also share the state with the Marlins, it is the Yankees that have the highest preference among Hispanics at 22%. The Marlins are preferred among 13% of Florida’s Hispanics and again, the Rays are at 5%. That’s a steep hill to climb for the Rays.

Perhaps growth into Cuba could help the Rays and Marlins capture the Florida Hispanic fanbase. Here the Marlins are at an advantage with superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez. Currently, the Rays are lacking in highly marketable Hispanic players.

Public Policy Polling data shows the Rays are the fourth most popular team in Florida. Diving into the data shows in which segments of the population preference for the Rays is strong or weak. As the Rays are at a franchise crossroads, both on-the-field and off, their front office has a lot of work ahead to build a more diverse following throughout Florida. Hopefully they use this or their own proprietary demographic data to bolster their fanbase.

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4 comments for “Exploring the Rays Popularity through Polling: 2015

  1. Andrea
    June 11, 2015 at 7:02 pm

    Are these home phone polling? I never answer those and most people do not. I think someone needs to separate the political polling questions out completely and find another way to poll. Perhaps direct mailing would be better and why would any poll focus on all of Florida? Miami has a team in south FL and the Braves cover Northern FL. Perhaps the better polling efforts would be in the Tampa Bay area where the team is.

    • Michael Lortz
      June 12, 2015 at 3:03 am

      The closest we might come to that is the Facebook polling that is out there – how many FB likes are there of the team by people who identify as living in the area? Currently, the Rays are 56% of Hillsborough and 58% of Pinellas. I have a few articles on that on this site.

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