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Florida’s diversity includes loyalties to sports teams

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According to a recent poll, a plurality of Floridians back U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio. Not his candidacy for president, but his allegiance to the University of Florida Gators.

Rubio made headlines when he jokingly categorized Florida State as a fallback school for those not gaining entry into UF. Florida State backers, including President John Thrasher, were quick to respond.

The PPP Poll revealed that 23 percent of those responding are loyal to the Gators, while 18 percent identified the Seminoles as their choice. Miami came in at 11 percent while 10 percent said the University of Central Florida. Florida Atlantic and South Florida each had five percent with two percent for Florida International.

The poll also gave clear evidence that Florida baseball fans are natives of other states. Among respondents, 25 percent split their loyalty between the Tampa Bay Rays and Miami Marlins, with 47 percent picking teams from other states.

The Rays are tied with the Atlanta Braves as their favorite with 14 percent each. The New York Yankees and Marlins each came in with 11 percent support. The Boston Red Sox were supported by nine percent, followed by the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets with five and the Philadelphia Phillies with three percent.

Football engenders more loyalty among fans for Florida teams. The Miami Dolphins are the most popular with 19 percent, followed by the Tampa Bay Bucs with 15 percent and the Jacksonville Jaguars with 9 percent. The New York Giants, Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots are the most popular non-Florida teams. Each polled in single digits.

The poll surveyed 814 voters from September 11-13 with a margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percent. The survey contains numerous political and policy responses in addition to the sports findings.

Complete poll results can be found here.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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