Liberals and moderates are more likely to be following soccer and the World Cup than conservatives – but regional and racial differences are even bigger
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter had US soccer fans – and liberals – up in arms this week over a column in which she claims that growing interest in soccer “can only be a sign of the nation’s moral decay”. Coulter lists nine offenses against the sport, including its lack of “individual glory”, the fact that girls can play the game with boys (which makes it popular with “liberal soccer moms”) and the fact that it is "foreign". The column outraged many fans of the US men's national soccer team, but also sparked a debate over whether the sport's rising popularity was something for conservatives like Coulter to fear.
A recent poll by YouGov confirms that, regardless of any claims of moral decay, the sport does seem to be more popular with self-identified liberals than conservatives. 24% of liberals say they follow soccer when the World Cup is not being played, compared to just 14% of conservatives. Liberals are also more likely to be following this world cup by a narrower margin of 8 points (35-27%).
However, there are other, overlapping demographic groups that follow soccer more closely than liberals when taken on their own.
The gap between Hispanics and whites on soccer is much wider than the gap between liberals and conservatives, for instance.
Similarly, soccer is much more popular in the South and the West than in the Northeast and the Midwest.
Soccer still has a long way to go before it can rival the popularity of other sports in the United States. Though 17% said soccer was the “most beautiful” out of football, ice hockey, baseball and basketball, in a recent YouGov survey, 28% also said it was the “most boring to watch”. And while soccer may be particularly popular among certain constituencies, a January YouGov poll found that the National Football League is even more popular among those same groups: 46% of liberals, 51% of Hispanics, and 43% of people in the West follow the NFL somewhat or very closely.
Full poll results can be found here.