Trump has been attending a lot of sporting events of late, from the World Series (where the reception was a bit icy) to the college football championship (warmer) to his appearance at Daytona (effusive). Trump has a demonstrated appreciation for approval, and Daytona was a good way to get some — as well as media coverage among voters who he clearly hopes will turn out to vote for him in November.
That said, the Daytona appearance was perhaps not the best way to leverage a sporting event to reach out to a large population of mostly Republican viewers. He might have had better luck, somewhat unexpectedly, had he shown up at the Stanley Cup.
In August 2017, The Washington Post and our polling partners at the University of Massachusetts Lowell conducted a survey focused on Americans’ views of sports. Unsurprisingly, respondents were most likely to identify themselves as fans of professional football. A bit more surprisingly, professional wrestling — that is, WWE — came in as least popular, statistically tied with esports.
That poll allows us to see where there are partisan divides in views of sports. Republicans, for example, are six percentage points more likely to identify as fans of professional football than are Democrats. Democrats are 25 points more likely to identify as fans of professional basketball.
While auto racing isn’t that popular relative to other sports, it is among the sports where Republicans are more likely to identify as fans than Democrats — and at one of the widest margins. As noted above, though, the widest gap in that regard is for professional hockey, where Republicans are 15 percentage points more likely than Democrats to identify as fans.
We can look at this another way: by the partisan identity of fans of the sport. Professional football fans are about eight points more Democratic than Republican (including independents who lean toward one party or the other). NASCAR fans are one of two groups that lean more Republican — but only barely.
Again, that hockey number stands out. Hockey fans are six percentage points more Republican than Democratic, the widest pro-Republican margin of any sport.
Intentionally or not, Trump’s been attending less and less heavily Democratic sporting events, from the World Series (whose fans are 12 points more Democratic) to college football (eight points more Democratic) to the NASCAR race (a single point more Republican).
The Stanley Cup is in April, a perfect opportunity for Trump to appear before the reddest audience in American sports. And as an added bonus, there’s even a vehicle Trump can drive around the rink.