Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Homers Mark New Twist to Red, Blue States

Technically I do not study public opinion. Because it is a branch of communication research, it interests me nonetheless.

I am interested in how various publics come to identify with objects, especially made-up ones such as brands and sports teams.

As a former sports journalist, I try not to be a homer. That is, I try to be objective about my sports teams. But as we know from experimental psychology, I cannot. I love what I love.

Checking my regular news sources today, I noticed an interesting poll on ESPN.com. Through their Sports Nation section, they were conducting a virtual college football playoff. The first poll pitted Ohio State against Oklahoma. The Buckeyes received the No. 1 seed, and the Sooners received the No. 8 seed.
As the seeds suggest, 87% of Americans thought that OSU would win this match-up. Although I do not often vote in these polls, I put in my click for the Bucks. Then I noticed the "View Map" button.
You can see the result above. State-by-state voting results show that sports fans in every state think the Bucks would win ... except one. Defying logic, 76% of Oklahomers think that the Sooners would win.
Instantly, a light bulb went off in my head. Identification!
Later -- but not now -- there was a poll pitting No. 2 Florida versus No. 7 Wisconsin. This was even more fascinating. You see, The Badgers play in the Big Ten (11).
Here the results were not so overwhelming. Most of the country favored the Gators. Not Wisconsin. Or Minnesota. Or Michigan. All Big Ten states, they were blue. Fellow Big Ten states Indiana and Ohio were grey. Fifty percent of Hoosiers and Buckeyes sided with their conference over the seeding.
Fascinating stuff, people!
Our hearts beat out our minds. I'd bet that some of these results would change if people had to lay money down. But when it comes to siding with our friends, we're all a bit Homer.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw a similar map the week leading up to the OSU-Michigan game this year.

Every state in the U.S. sided with OSU and only Michigan believed that Michigan would win. It was funny because the whole nation was blue with only one Michigan-favoring state, Michigan, in red.

The sportscenter anchor realized how weird that looked and the next time I saw the map on ESPN a few hours later, the OSU states were in red and Michigan was blue.

8:12 AM  

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