(Photo: Reuters/Beck Diefenbach)
More than one in four voters pointed to celebrated Denver Broncos' player Tim Tebow when asked which NFL playoff quarterback they would choose for president of the United States in the 2012 elections, a recent Reuters/Ipsos poll of likely voters has revealed.
The online survey of 2,475 people was conducted just ahead of the Super Bowl, pushing the extremely popular player to first place as presidential material, even though his team did not qualify for the final NFL event. The poll's results were released Friday.
New England Patriots' Tom Brady, who is married to super model Gisele Bundchen, came third in the poll, preceded by one percentage point by the New York Giants' Eli Manning.
Tebow, well known for public expression of his Christian faith, was the overwhelming first choice of Republicans in the poll, taking 39 percent of their vote, Reuters reported. He was second to Manning among Democrats and third among those identifying themselves as independent. Geographically, Tebow's biggest strength was in the South and the West, where he nearly doubled his closest rivals' support.
The creator of "Tebowing" was the favorite of both men and women, as well as both whites and Hispanics (he was third among African-Americans, behind Drew Brees and Brady), according to the information released by Reuters. Tebow was also the clear first choice of every age demographic, except for those between 45 and 54, who apparently favored Manning by a wide margin.
The only other quarterback to start in the playoffs this year who receive double-digit support in the poll was the New Orleans Saints' Drew Brees, who attracted 15 percent of votes.
Tebow could not technically run for president before he turns 35. But in an interview with Reuters, he did not exclude a possibility of getting into politics "in the future."
"Maybe one day in the future, not right now though," he told the news agency. He added, "For all the support I'm very appreciative, it means a lot."
What do political analysts say about the idea? A popular figure like an athlete might have an easier time as far as fundraising goes, David A. Bositis, Senior Research Associate at the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies in Washington D.C., told The Christian Post. However, easier fundraising would not necessarily carry over into a presidential race, he warned.
"NFL quarterbacks don't run for president nor are they elected. Athletes do run for other public offices," Bositis told CP via email. "Someone who was very involved with former U.S. Rep. J.C. Watts' (R-OK) campaign for the U.S. House (Watts was a college football star and played in the Canadian football league) told me there are plusses and minuses to athletes running. He said star athletes have an easier time raising money but that people often think they are not too bright."
In addition to the age restriction, there might be questions over whether Tebow could be disqualified from seeking the presidency, if he ever chose to do so, because he was born in the Philippines.
The public's desire to see popular icons become presidential candidates is not a new phenomenon. Many celebrities, most often actors, have been named potential "presidential material," among them Oprah Winfrey, Alec Baldwin, Matt Damon and Tina Fay.