Because, like major league sports fans, I care about qualifications

The Giants won an exciting season finale this afternoon at AT&T Park in an unlikely sweep of the Dodgers, qualifying to play against the Mets next Wednesday, in a quest for the National League wildcard slot for baseball’s post-season playoffs. As much as I enjoy baseball, my mind is on matters of slightly greater import and I went to the game with my fingers crossed for the Giants but also equipped with a clipboard and a burning desire to understand how fans were thinking about the upcoming election.

Fans are obviously at the park to enjoy the game, so I figured I would only get a moment or two to question fans between innings and during pitching changes and the like. I definitely didn’t want to violate the sacred space of sports fans too much so I knew I had to keep it short and to the point.  Having had two daughters go through Little League and suspecting that dads of daughters may vote differently than dads of sons, I thought I would add a question about Little League experience, just to see if there was any interesting correlations.  So I had six questions prepared: 1) Were they a sports fan?  2) Were they are parent?  3) Had they participated in Litttle League with their kid(s)? 4) What was the percent likelihood of them voting?  5) Who was their selection for president?  6) What was their top reason for their selection?

I was glued to my Field Club seat for the first few innings.  Having forgotten to bring a hat, I finally got up to purchase one and found out that being in the Field Club section gave me a real advantage: I was able to make hay on finding fans to survey while meandering around the Food Court, with its large food selection, bars and cocktail-style perching tables. This gave me a less confined opportunity to scout out and chat with fans who were pausing to eat while keeping an eye on the many large-screen TV floating just above head level. Luckily, the Giants went ahead early and stayed ahead and everyone I spoke to was in a good, gracious mood and didn’t mind a quick interruption to give me their thoughts about the election.  When I explained that I was hoping to collect data for a blog post, nearly everyone I approached was willing to take my survey and several overheard me asking my questions and offered to participate, so I had them lining up.  I had further luck in the ladies room and this was supplemented by overwhelmingly friendly responses from nearly everyone sitting in the seats around where I was sitting, supplemented by others on the train heading back home.  By the end, I had a smallish but statistically significant sample and, best of all, I had managed not to jinx the Giants.

I now have some interesting data from my survey of 56% men and 44% women.  It turns out that, of those who are citizens and can vote, 87% were 100% sure that they would cast their ballots in the upcoming election. The 13% who put their likelihood of voting at 50% or less were Trump leaners or Undecideds.

I found that a full 6% were voting for Johnson, either in protest or because of party allegiance to the Libertarian Party.  There was also a sizeable chunk of folks who were undecided.  A full 22% claimed to be unsure which way they would land, with most of those saying they “hated both” presidential candidates and would be watching to see what, if any, new information came out between now and the election that pushed them one way or the other.  Interestingly, only 25% of the Undecideds felt they just didn’t know enough about either candidate at this point and needed to learn more in order to decide.

The big finding, however, was that at our ballpark, major league sports fans overwhelmingly support Hillary over Trump by a margin of almost 4 to 1, evenly split between men and women. Hillary garnered the votes of slightly over 56% of the total versus just under 16% of those polled who were pro-Trump—all of which were men.

Of the Trump supporters I spoke with, 80% based their reasons for that choice on something relatively negative and their style of speaking, I noted, was remarkably apologetic.  They confessed that they hated both candidates but Trump marginally less so or they insisted they were voting solely for the Republican party, despite Trump.  Only 20% expressed a positive reason for choosing to vote for Trump, which was because they thought he was better at “business.”

On the other hand, the top reasons fans gave for supporting Hillary were positive and sounded a lot like the kinds of things baseball fans like to rave about when they regale their teams’ records:  her experience, her qualifications, her competence, her IQ and her commitment.  If Hillary had had an “on base” slugging percentage or an “RBI” average available, I suspect that I would have gotten this data and more from this crew.  These people seemed quite used to looking clearly and rationally at the data and assessing the success factors associated with this player’s long career. Most sounded quite confident that they had extracted enough data points to know that they had a seasoned, exceptional performer and were excited to hand her the ball.  Only a minority of Hillary supporters, less than 40% of those who were voting for her, were primarily defensive-minded.  These gave their primary reason for supporting Hillary as being highly anti-Trump and everything that he stood for.

To my surprise, out of everyone, only one person was voting for Hillary because she is a woman.  On the other hand, I found no discernible correlations between respondents’ choices and whether or not they were a parent or had had experiences with Little League.  There was a slight increase in percentage of Trump supporters among those who I noted identified as being Dodgers fans versus Giants fans but uniformly it was clear that both Giants and Dodgers fans were hugely appreciative admirers of Vin Scully, who made his last appearance as a sports announcer from the Giants’ stadium and was well celebrated by the Giants fans.  In listening to the wonderful commendations and anecdotes about Scully’s career, we were reminded that we fans were participating in a beautiful and gentlemanly rivalry of epic proportions.  Let’s hope that after the election, there will be those kinds of voices that get everyone to come together in support of the next president.

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