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The TV Preferences of Republicans and Democrats

posted by Nell Minow

Entertainment Weekly commissioned a study showing political differences in television-watching and they are so pronounced it provides some explanation of the increasing polarization and partisanship of our political conversations.  In the early days of television, Marshall McLuhan famously called it the “Global Village.”  With so few choices available to watch, we all saw the same programs and that created a common framework and vocabulary, whether it was “The Ed Sullivan Show” or “I Love Lucy.  But the range of choices has led to such disparity in our sources of information and entertainment that television now separates us more than it brings us together.  EW asked people who described themselves as “liberal Democrats” or “conservative Republicans” to list the television programs they liked and didn’t like, so the results are intentionally focused on the extremes, and the survey excluded news, sports, and music.


Are you surprised by any of these?

Liberal Democrats like “The Daily Show” and “Masterpiece” and generally picked comedies,  highly verbal shows like “30 Rock,” “The Office,” “Modern Family” and “Saturday Night Live” more than the conservative Republicans.  They don’t like “Dog the Bounty Hunter” and “Cops.”

Conservative Republicans like “Castle,” Jay Leno, and cable reality shows like “Swamp Loggers” (one of the liberal Democrats’ least favorites).  They don’t like anti-hero shows like “Weeds” and “Dexter” and left-leaning political comedy shows like “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”

Encouragingly, if a little predictably, both sides like “The Middle.”

Less encouragingly, this data will be used to determine where political advertising dollars are spent, which promotes even less overlap in world view and understanding between the extremes on both sides.


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