THE ZOGBY/LEAR CENTER SURVEYS ON
POLITICS & ENTERTAINMENT: 2007
The Norman Lear Center and Zogby International conducted an extensive national survey examining political beliefs and entertainment preferences. The survey – conducted June 26–29, 2007, including 3,939 adults nationwide and carrying a margin of error of +/– 1.6 percentage points – revealed that America's entertainment tastes are as polarized as our political views. Using statistical clustering analysis, we created a political typology based on how respondents evaluated 42 statements about political values. The typology revealed three significant clusters of respondents: "conservatives," as we decided to call them, make up 37% of the national sample, while "liberals" comprise 39% and "moderates" 24%. The same respondents were asked about their entertainment preferences, including their consumption of the most highly-rated TV shows and networks; popular movies, sports, music, books, art and theater. We discovered that just as there are conservatives, liberals and moderates, there are people with Red, Blue and Purple taste.
Read the press release for thumbnail sketches of Red, Blue and Purple taste, as well as highlights from the findings. Here are some additional findings, by entertainment category:
When it comes to TV networks, it’s quite likely that if conservatives like it, liberals hate it. And vice versa.
- Compared to all other respondents, conservatives were more likely to watch only two channels out of the 24 highest-rated networks: Fox and Fox News. While no one should be surprised to hear that conservatives like to watch Fox News (70% watch it daily, opposed to 12% of moderates and liberals), many may wonder why the Fox broadcast network is their second favorite channel, with over twice as many conservatives watching it daily, compared to all other respondents. Fox – the home of anti-authority satires like The Simpsons, Family Guy and MADtv – draws daily more than three times as many conservatives as liberals.
- Fox News wins the prize for the most politically divisive TV channel (70% of conservatives watch it daily and only 3% of liberals).
- What broadcast network do conservatives hate most? 27% report that they never watch NBC, compared to 8% of all other respondents. Of course it’s the one liberals like best: almost 70% watch the peacock on a daily or weekly basis.
- Advertisers may be surprised to discover that a great place to capture moderates is on Fox News, where over 27% of moderates tune in daily. Unlike conservatives, though, moderates watch all the broadcast networks, and, like the liberals, NBC is their favorite, with 37% watching daily.
- Over 82% of conservatives say they never watch MTV. The only other station from our list that they watch less is Univision (84%).
- Who has a sense of humor? Not only do liberals give Comedy Central a big thumbs up (31% watch it daily, compared to 6% of all other respondents), you are more likely to find them watching comedies than moderates or conservatives.
TV & FILM GENRES
Much like the TV network findings, when it comes to TV and film genres, you can safely bet that if conservatives like it, liberals hate it.
- While conservatives are more likely than all other respondents to watch action adventures and business and sports programming, that’s exactly the programming that liberals are less likely to watch.
- While liberals are more likely to be found watching drama, comedy, documentaries, and arts and educational programming, those are the genres that conservatives are more likely to avoid.
- Conservative viewers, who are 57% male, are more likely to watch action-adventure, sports, and business programming than moderates or liberals.
- Out of 15 TV and film genres, “arts” emerged as the one with the highest positive correlation to liberal viewers and the highest negative correlation to conservative viewers. In other words, while 48% of liberals prefer arts programming, only 17% of conservatives do. At the other end of the scale, less than 5% of liberals say they do not like the genre at all, compared to almost 25% of conservatives.
- Cerebral material like documentaries and arts and educational programming all appeal more to liberals, who are 57% female.
- And what shows do liberals skip? If it’s a game show or reality programming, they probably don’t watch it.
- Compared to other respondents, moderates are more likely to watch children’s and daytime programming.
Liberals enjoy a broad range of music, while conservatives dislike most music genres.
- Out of 15 musical genres, conservatives were more likely than the rest of the respondents to listen to only two of them: country and gospel. What genre are they least likely to listen to, compared to the rest of the respondents? Not punk or hip-hop, as you might expect, but world music. World music is also the music genre where we see the greatest difference between conservatives and liberals.
- Conservatives are the least likely group to listen to jazz (34% vs. 44% vs. 53%) and reggae (8% vs. 20% vs. 26%).
- Over 90% of conservatives said they never enjoy reggae, electronic music or Latin music. Over 95% said they never enjoy world music and punk music.
- Liberals, on the other hand, are more likely than other respondents to enjoy almost every music genre, including world, punk, Latin, hip-hop and rap, blues, reggae, electronica, R&B and soul, jazz, folk and traditional music. Rock was the most popular genre among liberals (67%).
- Although all political types claimed they enjoy classical music, moderates were the least enamored with it (55.5% listen to it compared to almost 62% of the rest of respondents). Moderates also showed their distaste for folk & traditional music (72.5% said they don’t listen to it, compared to 62.4% of the rest of the respondents), and they joined conservatives in their distaste for world music (90% said they don’t listen to it, compared to 71% of liberals.)
- Moderates’ favorite music is rock (58%). Conservatives’ favorite music is classical (60%) followed by country (56%) and rock (55%).
While conservatives report very few trips to the cineplex, liberals are the most frequent moviegoers.
- We asked respondents to tell us which of the most popular movies they’d seen in late 2006 and early 2007: conservatives weren’t significantly more likely to have seen any of them. The movie that they were least likely to have seen, compared to moderates and liberals, was the religion-themed blockbuster The Da Vinci Code.
- Compared to moderates and conservatives, liberals were more likely to have seen The Da Vinci Code, as well as Borat and The Departed, two of only three R-rated films on the list.
- The movie that the most moderates had seen was The Da Vinci Code (44%).
VIDEO GAMES & SPORTS
While many sports preferences fell along ideological lines, football proved to be the most popular sport in all three political categories and across almost every demographic category in the sample.
- Conservatives don’t seem to play a lot of video games, but football scores very high for conservatives (62%), and so does the Madden NFL video game franchise (Madden and Mario were the most popular among conservatives). Sunday Night Football is also one of their favorite shows, with over 30% watching it every week.
- Football is also the favorite sport among liberals, with almost 49% saying they enjoy it. Compared to all other respondents, liberals prefer soccer and tennis, but they dislike auto racing and rodeo.
- If you play Grand Theft Auto, it’s more likely that you’re a liberal. But if you like auto racing, we’d bet you’re conservative. Conservatives are four times more likely than liberals to follow NASCAR (5% vs. 20%).
- Moderates’ favorite games were Mario (14%), Donkey Kong (12%) and Madden NFL (11%).
- For all political types, football was the most popular sport, and rodeo was the least popular.
A COMMON CULTURE?
Here are examples of entertainment with broad appeal across ideological categories:
- House: one of the very successful TV shows with almost an equal number of adherents across the political spectrum.
- News: over 70% of each political group said they watch the news everyday
- Football: in almost every demographic category, and across the ideological spectrum, football is the most popular sport. Sunday Night Football has a stronger conservative following, but it is very popular among moderates and liberals, as well.
- The Da Vinci Code: in almost every demographic category, except for the ultra-religious, this was the movie seen by the most people.
- Movies: although moderates like them best, movies were the most popular type of TV programming for every political type.
- Classical music: although moderates are less enamored with it, classical music barely nudged ahead of rock as the most popular music genre overall.
- Mario: although conservatives slightly prefer Madden NFL, Mario was the most popular game across the political spectrum.
For more information about the survey, contact Johanna Blakley at Blakley@usc.edu.