Major League Baseball has suffered a massive loss in popularity among Republicans due to its intervention on the side of Democrats in the political dispute over Georgia’s voting law. According to a poll by Morning Consult, MLB’s net favorability rating (the difference between the percentage of those who view the sport positively and those who view it negatively) among Republicans has dropped from 47 points to 12 points in the past month.
Until commissioner Rob Manfred moved the all-star game, MLB was the big-time sports league viewed most favorably by Republicans. Now, it is viewed less favorably than the NFL and the NHL. It’s still viewed more favorably than the NBA, though.
From a political standpoint, these ratings are justified. Intervening in a political dispute on behalf of Democrats should offend Republicans far more than allowing players to express negative views about American by kneeling before a game, as the NFL does. MLB’s action is more like the NBA’s kowtowing to Red China, as the NBA does.
There are a lot of Republicans in America and many of them are, or were, baseball fans. Thus, MLB should be concerned about the poll results discussed above.
However, it’s important to note that, in itself, a weak favorability rating doesn’t punish Major League Baseball. What will matter to MLB in the end — apart from its antitrust exemption which seems not to be in imminent danger — is the effect, if any, on attendance at games (once restrictions are lifted) and on television ratings.
We’ll see whether Republicans vote on MLB with their feet and their eyeballs.