In addition to all of the national-level survey data we harvest, there are numerous regions around the country where we have strong enough reach to do highly accurate local consumer research. Nowhere is this capability deeper than in Pittsburgh, our hometown. On an average day, we poll over 40,000 residents of the Pittsburgh DMA on hundreds of different national and local topics. Among our favorite topics to track are the approval ratings of the coaches and managers of the three major sports teams.

Our tracking of Pittsburgh Pirates Manager Clint Hurdle has been uniquely interesting, given the way this season has progressed. It provides some remarkable, if comical, insight into the fickle nature of sports fans in general and Pittsburgh sports fans in particular.

Beginning on April 29th of this year, we began polling a few hundred people every day, asking how they felt about the job Hurdle was doing as Manager, with answer choices ranging from Very Positive, to Somewhat Positive, Somewhat Negative, or Very Negative. On that first day of polling, Hurdle had a Very Positive rating of 30%. During the first full month of the season, 5,474 respondents gave Hurdle an average Very Positive rating of 25%. Starting in early June, as the team began winning regularly, Hurdle’s rating climbed steadily (with an occasional hiccup after a loss here or there) until leveling off around 81% on July 4th. Let’s skip ahead.

On August 9th, with a tough loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Pirates began a troubling swoon, suffering losses in 7 of their next 8 games. In the month preceding that first Arizona loss (July 9- August 8), Hurdle enjoyed an aggregate Very Positive rating of 73%. His rating peaked at 83% on June 12, following the All-Star break and again on August 3rd, following consecutive wins against the Cubs. His numbers bottomed out at 59% on July 17 following back-to-back losses to the Brewers and Rockies. On August 8th, before the current losing streak started, Hurdle’s Very Positive rating held steady at 81%.

In the past week, however, things have turned South, bad. Last Friday, after that first loss to the Diamondbacks, Hurdle’s Very Positive rating fell to 73%, still consistent with the average we saw the month prior. By Saturday the 11th, it dropped to 63% after blowing a 6-run lead to Arizona. Over the following 4 days (and three losses) his rating hovered between 60% and 64%. On Wednesday, following a blow-out loss to the Dodgers, the number dropped to 55% and then, today, August 16th, it fell to 41% after another bad loss to L.A.

Clint Hurdle Positive Rating from August 8-16, 2012

As a die-hard Pirates fans here in the office, let’s hope these numbers get better soon, because that would mean that the Pirates are winning again. And maybe we shouldn’t blame Clint Hurdle every time Pedro Alvarez strikes out or Wandy Rodriguez serves up softballs.

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