On the heels of their first World Series title, the Washington Nationals have emerged as the District’s favorite sports franchise, according to a new Washington Post poll.
Since the franchise relocated from Montreal after the 2004 season, the Nationals have made considerable steps in building a fan base. Nationals Park opened in 2008 and redevelopment initiatives would later occur in the surrounding area, while the team has been successful for much of this decade–beginning that stretch of success with a National League East title in 2012. After falling short in multiple trips to the postseason, the Nationals made a run to their World Series championship by defeating the favored Houston Astros in a seven-game series.
That has clearly resonated with residents of Washington, DC, as the new Washington Post poll finds that the Nationals are the city’s favorite franchise. In the poll, a total of 28% of respondents identified the Nationals as their favorite team, well ahead of the NFL’s Redskins, who polled at 13%. When a similar survey was conducted by The Washington Post in 2010, the Redskins finished first with 34% while the Nationals polled at just seven percent.
Clearly, that amounts to a sizable reversal for both franchises. Part of this can be attributed to the waning popularity of the Redskins–attributed to factors such as their controversial name, and poor on-field performance–but the Nationals have clearly grown over the years, thanks to their success and ability to appeal to both lifelong DC residents and transplants. More from The Washington Post:
“The Nationals,” said Nathaniel Cruz, 35, a lifelong Washingtonian, “Because they win. To be my favorite team, you got to prove it. You got to win.”
That could be said in many towns, but the Nationals’ October run galvanized a region still basking in the afterglow of the Mystics’ championship and the Capitals’ 2018 Stanley Cup title.
Baseball fan Dave Vorland, 35, moved to Washington in 2009 with an allegiance to the Chicago Cubs. But he said it was easy to adopt the Nationals as his favorite D.C. team. He even bought into a shared season ticket plan this year and was a regular at Nationals Park for the team’s title run. He said many people move here and find the Nats easy to root for.
“There are probably a lot of people who are not willing to support [the Redskins] because of the name,” he said, “and then frankly they’re just really bad, and I think that hurts people adopting them as their second team or their favorite team in a transient town.”
At this point, the Nationals and Redskins find themselves on the opposite ends of the spectrum, with the former having just won the World Series while the latter has just one win through 10 regular-season games. Still, the Nationals success in the poll is quite notable when considering the recent successes of DC’s other sports franchise, including the NHL’s Capitals and WNBA’s Mystics.
The poll was conducted November 12-17, surveying a random sample of 905 adult residents of the District of Columbia. It has a margin of error of plus or minus four points.