Thanks to a weird presidential election that might have Utah become reasonably contested for once, the state is getting a bit more attention from political pollsters than it typically does. And one polling outfit decided to have a little fun once they were finished with their presidential questions, and asked about what the people REALLY want to know about: college football.
Forget who Utahns like for President. Who is their favorite college football team?
Utah wins out over BYU when it comes to college sports loyalties in the state, 32/26. Utah State is third at 16%, followed by Weber State at 4%, Southern Utah at 3%, and Utah Valley at 2%.
This will probably really shock everybody, but demographics mattered quite a bit, as far as local football team preference is concerned. Again, from the report:
There are massive political and religious divides on college loyalty. Among Democrats Utah leads with 54% to 15% for Utah State, with BYU only tied for third with Utah Valley at 5%. But among Republicans BYU wins out with 40% to 21% for Utah, and 15% for Utah State. The political divide mirrors the religious split- among Mormons, BYU leads with 40% to 20% for Utah and 17% for Utah State. But among non-Mormons Utah romps with 55% to 14% for Utah State with BYU registering at only 1%.
I’m not from Utah, so it’s entirely possible I’m off-base here, but I would have expected BYU to do a little bit better among LDS residents in Utah. If this data is accurate though, the religious and political splits between BYU and Utah fans might be more dramatic than with any other local rivalry. It’s part of what makes the Holy War particularly explosive, but also cool and unique.
Greg Welch of Loyal Cougars pointed out to me that BYU actually held a slim 35/33 advantage when PPP conducted a similar poll back in 2012.
Utah has been the more successful program in recent memory, and Utah State has recently enjoyed a bit of a program resurgence, so those two programs getting stronger local fan support makes some sense. If BYU is able to string together a few big seasons, perhaps this changes a bit.
Of course, if you’re a political junkie, or are dying to know what the approval rating for Sausage McMuffins or alcohol is in the state of Utah, you can read the entire report here.