Welcome to Pollapalooza, our weekly polling roundup.
Growing up, I always celebrated Super Bowl Sunday with my family. I say celebration because for us, for many Americans, it was much more than a game. The food, the halftime show, the commercials — it all adds up to more than a championship, especially for people like me who don’t watch a minute of football early in the season.
But over the past decade or so, the dark side of the game and the NFL has been brought into focus. The league’s racist recruiting practices and repeated allegations of abuse against its players — including chronic brain injuries — have garnered all the attention in recent years. And this season in particular, with Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa carried off on a stretcher after head and neck injuries and Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest on the field, fans couldn’t ignore the often grim reality of sports. But while recent polling suggests that this unpleasant chapter in the public perception of the sport has affected the way fans think about football, it doesn’t appear to have dampened their excitement for Sunday’s game.
Football has a reputation among Americans as an unsafe sport that can cause injuries. According to two YouGov polls conducted last October and January, 4 in 5 American adults say concussions and concussions in soccer are each “somewhat” or “very” common, the highest share of the 11 sports listed. In a January survey from the Siena College/St. Bonaventure, 27 percent of Americans agree with the statement that football is “too violent” and 37 percent agree that it is “too dangerous for young people to play.” Even among avid sports fans (defined as people who watch sports or sports news, check scores, or discuss sports almost daily), 23 percent agreed that football was too violent and 33 percent agreed that it was too dangerous for children. In fact, avid sports fans (41 percent) were more likely than Americans overall (30 percent) to exploit professional football players for our enjoyment.
Concussions in particular appear to be affecting Americans’ view of football — but only temporarily, according to multiple Morning Consult polls. Last October, after Tagovailoa’s injury, 66 percent of Americans said football was “very” or “somewhat” unsafe, including most self-described NFL fans (63 percent). But by January, those numbers had plummeted in the wake of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest: 61 percent of Americans and 58 percent of NFL fans now said football was unsafe. And in October, a majority of Americans (50 percent) and NFL fans (52 percent) said the NFL prioritizes profits over protecting players, but in January, less than 50 percent of both groups said so.
But even accounting for the NFL’s dark side and recent high-profile injuries hasn’t dampened Americans’ enthusiasm for the Super Bowl. In a Morning Consult poll, 66 percent of Americans said they were “very” or “somewhat” likely to watch the game, and most Americans said they were no less likely to watch it this year than last year: Thirty-three percent said they were more likely to watch it, while 45 percent said they were either very or very unlikely to watch it. Also, 46 percent said they plan to get together with people living outside their homes to watch the game, up from 36 percent in 2022 and 25 percent in 2021, according to Seton Hall University polling.
One of the reasons Super Bowl Sunday remains a big draw despite the sport’s dangerous reputation is that it’s more than just the big game. When another January poll from Siena College/St. Bonaventure University asked Americans to choose the most interesting part of the Super Bowl among four options, 20 percent said the commercials and 21 percent said the halftime show. (Forty-nine percent of Americans answered the game and 1 percent said pregame coverage; the remaining 9 percent said “other” or “none.”) Of the reasons respondents gave for watching the Super Bowl, 82 percent said they wanted to. New ads and 80 percent said they enjoy the halftime show, compared to 78 percent who said they just like the Super Bowl and never miss it. A large majority of Americans (90 percent) said they tuned in as an opportunity to spend time with friends and family, while 75 percent said they watched because it was an opportunity to eat and drink.
The enthusiasm for everything that goes with Super Bowl Sunday other than football — the food, the ads, Rihanna’s first public performance in five years — seems to have overshadowed lingering discomfort with the league’s problems. In fact, that Siena/St. According to a Bonaventure poll, 29 percent of Americans said they considered it a national holiday. As it was for me and my family growing up, Super Bowl Sunday is bigger than the game.
Other polling bites
- During his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, President Biden highlighted that inflation, while still high, has been slowing over the past six months and he outlined his plans to strengthen the economy. It’s an issue Americans agreed was important for Biden to touch on: In a YouGov and CBS News poll conducted last week, 67 percent of Americans said it was important to hear about the State of the Union’s economy and inflation, and 76 percent said it was important for the country to reduce inflation. should be a high priority. They are also less optimistic about the economy than Biden. In a January Gallup poll, 67 percent of Americans said they expect inflation to rise a little or a lot over the next six months, and 48 percent expect the stock market to fall a little or a lot.
- Biden also spoke of America’s support for Ukraine in its fight against Russia, telling Ukraine’s ambassador to the United States that “we’re going to stand with you as long as it takes.” But polling shows Americans are divided over whether to continue supporting Ukraine. Forty-nine percent of Americans say Congress should provide more funding and weapons to Ukraine, while 47 percent say it shouldn’t, according to an NBC News poll from mid-January. Democrats were more likely than Republicans to support continued efforts to aid Ukraine. However, in a Fox News poll the following week, 63 percent of registered voters and 64 percent of registered voters, with a slim majority of Republicans, supported continuing to send money and arms to the United States, respectively. Similarly, a Golden/TIPP poll last week found that 6 in 10 Americans somewhat or strongly support continued military support.
- This week, AMC Entertainment announced that it will introduce tiered pricing for movie tickets, with seats in the middle of the theater becoming more expensive and those in the front row discounted. But moviegoers may not be keen on the change. In a YouGov poll the day of AMC’s announcement, 48 percent of Americans said changing ticket prices by seat was a bad idea, and only 28 percent said it was a good idea. But Americans are generally pleased with recent developments in movie theaters: When asked if the moviegoing experience was better or worse than 10 years ago, Americans say things have improved. Forty-one percent said it was a lot or somewhat better, 23 percent said it was a lot or somewhat worse, and 21 percent said it was about the same.
- Ahead of this weekend’s Super Bowl, M&Ms is promoting its commercial with a tongue-in-cheek statement about retiring its anthropomorphic candy mascot, or “spokescandy.” It comes after Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson accused the brand and its spokesperson of being too “woke”. But Americans don’t seem bothered by either side of this culture war. When asked whether they had a favorable or unfavorable view of the brand in a recent Morning Consult poll, 83 percent of Americans said they had a very or somewhat favorable opinion of M&Ms.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s presidential approval tracker, 42.7 percent of Americans approve of the job Biden is doing as president, while 52.0 percent disapprove (net approval rating of -9.3 points). At this time last week, 41.9 percent approved and 52.9 percent disapproved (a net approval rating of -11 points). A month ago, Biden had an approval rating of 43.7 percent and a disapproval rating of 51.5 percent, for a net approval rating of -7.8 points.