The politics of TV: What Democrats and Republicans watch
A new survey reveals how political leanings affect our TV preferences. For starters, liberals love Letterman, and conservatives prefer Leno
"Americans' partisan preferences don't end with their thoughts on how to fix the economy," says Lucy Madison at CBS News. Democrats and Republicans have very different TV viewing habits, too. The specifics are outlined in a new survey from consumer researcher firm Experian-Simmons, which prepared the report for Entertainment Weekly. (The survey's precise methodology remains somewhat unclear.) Here, four lessons about the relationship between politics and the boob tube:
1. There's a late-night partisan divideThe Dave Letterman-Jay Leno rivalry has gotten political. The survey reveals that Democrats prefer watching The Late Show with David Letterman, while Republicans favor The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. And the differences are polarizing, says Madison. "Not infrequently, a show beloved by one party is reviled by the other." Case in point: The Daily Show and The Colbert Report topped liberals' list of favorites, but are among conservatives' least favorite shows.
2. The differences in comedy tastes reinforce stereotypes"Literate media-savvy comedies" that rely on "sarcastic humor," like 30 Rock and Parks and Recreation, score high with Democrats, Experian-Simmons senior marketing manager John Fetto tells Entertainment Weekly. On the other hand, more traditional comedies, like ABC's The Middle, are popular with Republicans. Not appearing on either party's list of faves? Two and a Half Men. "Just who are the 20 million people watching that crap every week?" says Brian Moylan at Gawker.
3. Republicans love reality TV... but hate SnookiConservatives cite Dancing With the Stars, The Bachelor, and The Biggest Loser among their favorites, says Chris Harnick at Aol. But the Right doesn't love all reality TV. Jersey Shore, for instance, is on the GOP's list of least favorite shows. "Snooki's poof apparently doesn't work its magic on Republicans."
4. Conservatives really like older-skewing showsCBS has repeatedly earned a reputation as the network for "old people" — and apparently it's the network for conservatives, too. Republicans count popular CBS crime procedurals like CSI, NCIS, and The Mentalist among their favorites. They're also big fans of the Discovery and History channels. "Work-related reality shows on cable" like Swamp Loggers and Swamp People also top the Right's list, says James Hibberd at Entertainment Weekly, while the same crop of programming is among Democrats' most-hated.