Super Bowl XLVIII: A Political Guide

Originally published on February 2, 2014 9:43 am

Pro football prognosticators are divided over who's the favorite to win Sunday's Super Bowl. Some give the edge to Peyton Manning and the high-flying Denver Broncos. Others believe the stifling Seattle Seahawks defense will carry them to victory.

Here at the It's All Politics blog, we can't help with any game-day analysis or offer any insights into how the two teams match up against each other.

But we can tell you a little about the politics surrounding each team.

The Denver Broncos

Neither the Broncos nor the Seahawks are among the top NFL teams when it comes to political donations. But they're still plenty active.

According to a USA Today analysis, the Broncos' owners and their employees have contributed at least $84,000 to federal candidates and political parties since Jan. 2011 — mostly to Republicans or to the NFL's own political action committee.

Manning, Denver's star quarterback, donated $5,200 last year to Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is up for re-election in Tennessee — where Manning played college football. In the past, Manning's also donated to Republican presidential candidate and former Tennessee Sen. Fred Thompson and to President George W. Bush's 2004 re-election campaign.

His GOP donations haven't seemed to hurt him with Democratic football fans. According to this recent Public Policy Polling survey, Manning is popular with voters in both parties: 64 percent of Democrats view him favorably, compared to 70 percent of Republicans.

Manning's not the only Denver quarterback of note with a GOP lean: Hall of Famer John Elway, now a team executive, is a major Republican donor who helped funnel more than $50,000 to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign in 2012 and endorsed him at an October rally.

The Seattle Seahawks

In a city recognized for its liberal politics, Seahawks owner Paul Allen has been a generous donor to Democratic candidates, as well as the national party.

More recently, though, Allen's contributions were divided nearly evenly between candidates from both parties, according to USA Today. Those affiliated with the team contributed a little over half of what those affiliated with the Broncos contributed.

When it comes to star Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson's popularity, there's a wider partisan gap than with Manning: 39 percent of Democrats have a favorable opinion of Wilson compared to 25 percent of Republicans.

Like the Broncos, the Seahawks have a Hall of Famer with solid Republican credentials: Steve Largent, a former wide receiver who served as a Republican congressman from Oklahoma after he retired from professional football.

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