Democrats Favor More Cable Shows Than Republicans

It seems the differences between Republican and Democrat voters extend beyond their political views.

A full accounting of a recently-released survey on the television viewing patters of voters from both parties obtained by Multichannel News shows that Republicans tend to watch more mainstream, broadcast television shows — in particular reality competition shows – while Democrats tend to watch more niche-oriented cable fare.

Excluding news and music content, the Experian Simmons survey — conducted between April 2009 and June 2010 and representing all entertainment programming from the 2010-11 TV season– found that 17 of the top 25 most popular Democratic shows were cable shows, including the top show, HBO’s Real Time With Bill Maher, according to the organization.

Democratic voters frequently  tend to check the box for character-driven reality and scripted shows such as E!’s Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami, WeTV’s Bridezillas, Showtime’s Dexter and TNT’s Hawthorne.

“Many of the top indexing shows for Democrats are on cable, including the character-driven dramas,” said John Fetto, senior marketing manager for Experian Simmons. “Democrats tend to prefer reality for the sake of reality … their reality shows focus more on providing a window into the lives of outrageous or unique people, like Kourtney & Khloe.”

Also, shows with African-American leads such as Lifetime’s Sherri and TNT’s Hawthorne finished in the top 10, reflecting the influence of African-Americans within the Democratic voting base, according to the company.

By contrast, only seven cable shows made the top 25 among Republicans – with History’s Modern Marvels tracking at number seven, according to the survey. Republicans tend to lean toward “popular reality shows with a competitive component” according to Fetto, with series like Amazing Race, Dancing With The Stars and American Idol finishing among the top five shows on the list.

The party hasn’t totally eschewed cable, however. Republicans tended to gravitate to lifestyle networks like HGTV – the network’s shows like Property Virgins, Color Splash, Unsellables and Dear Genevieve all finished in the top 25 list – “which likely appeal to wealthier suburban Republicans,” according to Fetto.

Still, he said that there can be some bi-partisan consensus between the two parties on some cable and broadcast shows.

“Democrats and Republicans actually share a lot more in common than we think when it comes to their program preferences, especially for those highly rated shows that need to attract viewers from both sides of the political aisle to be a success,” he said.  “At the extreme ends, however, we see that Republicans tend to gravitate in higher concentrations to popular reality shows with a competitive component, while Democrats are disproportionately attracted to character-driven scripted dramas, which often have lots of buzz if not necessarily high ratings.”


The index represents the degree to which Republicans and Democrats are likely to view each show. An index of 100 is average. 


Experian Simmons