How ‘Red Sox vs. Yankees’ explains Connecticut politics

The fundamental question of my childhood growing up in Connecticut was this one: Red Sox or Yankees?

My dad -- a native of New Britain, Conn. -- was firmly on the Yankees side of things. My mom was ostensibly a Yankee fan but didn't care all that much. My best friends (they were twins) -- and, especially, their mom -- were big-time Red Sox fans. Which side you fell on mattered, and was viewed as a sign of who you were. Yankee fans were New Yorkers -- gritty, gruff, tough. Red Sox fans were New Englanders -- flinty, gruff, tough.  (In retrospect, there was less of a difference between the two than I thought as a kid.)

Now, finally, I have a scientific explanation of the great divide in Connecticut. It comes courtesy of Ben Blatt of the Harvard Sports Analysis Collective who, using Facebook likes, went town-by-town to map the Nutmeg State's rooting interests. Here's Blatt's explanation of his methodology:

To figure out where the true boundaries are I used Facebook’s ‘Create and Ad’ feature. By pretending be buying an advertisement, Facebook will tell you the approximate number of people in an area who ‘like’ something. For instance there are 101,400 people in Boston who like the Red Sox (of which, 280 are also 18-year old males who also ‘like’ Justin Bieber).

Here's Blatt's town-by-town breakdown of fandom:


Image courtesy of Ben Blatt

And here's his more definitive attempt to draw a Major League Baseball Mason-Dixon line in Connecticut.

Image courtesy of Ben Blatt
Image courtesy of Ben Blatt

This second map explains my childhood perfectly. See Glastonbury, the town in central Connecticut that is right along the Yankees-Red Sox line?  That's the town next to Marlborough, where I grew up.

There's also some politics -- of course -- involved in this Red Sox-Yankees split.  The Yankees territory generally follows the boundaries of the 4th and 5th congressional districts, which have, traditionally, been the most likely to send Republicans to Congress. (Rep. Chris Shays represented the 4th, while Rep. Nancy Johnson held the 5th. Both districts are now held by Democrats.) The eastern part of the state, on the other hand, has long been more friendly territory for Democrats -- reflecting its similarities to New England and especially neighboring Massachusetts.


So, if you want to understand the politics of Connecticut, you really need to understand the geography of  Red Sox-Yankees fandom in the state. In a strange sort of way, that makes perfect sense.

Chris Cillizza writes “The Fix,” a politics blog for the Washington Post. He also covers the White House.
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