Everyone knows that America is politically polarized. Over the past 25 years or so, regardless of the party in power, about 37% of the country has self-identified as liberal or progressive or Democratic or “Blue;” about 25% of the population has self-identified as conservative or Republican or “Red,” and the remaining 35% percent – call them moderates, independents, centrists, swing voters, or “Purples” – think of themselves as belonging to the political middle.
Does that polarization play out not only on the spectrum of political values, but also in other ways? Do Americans’ cultural preferences – the entertainment they like, the media they consume – also display a divided nation? Do our tastes in entertainment correlate to our beliefs about government, issues and society?
Until recently, little data were available to answer those questions. But in the summer of 2007, a partnership between the Norman Lear Center and Zogby International decided to find out. With more than 25 years in opinion research, Zogby International was ideally positioned to measure public political and entertainment preferences, and eager to work with the Lear Center, whose mission is to study the impact of entertainment on society.
Using Zogby’s interactive panel, we fielded our first of a series of surveys in June of 2007. The initial findings, released in November of 2007, offered a number of insights into America’s political and entertainment cultures. Those findings are available here.
This survey was planned as the first in a series of surveys answering questions about the interaction between America’s political and entertainment cultures. Our second survey, fielded in August 2008, included questions about leisure-time activities and favorite radio and TV shows, Web sites, movies, games and sports. These surveys increase our understanding about the relationship between the public and private lives of Americans – between their civic attitudes and their leisure pursuits, and their perceptions about how they ought to behave as citizens, and how they prefer to behave as consumers. We hope to apply what we learn to broader ideas regarding what entertainment choices mean for politics, and what our political inclinations say about our entertainment preferences.
For more research on entertainment and politics, check out our entertainment & politics bibliography.
For more information about the survey, contact Johanna Blakley at Blakley@usc.edu.