Democrats Favor More Cable Shows Than Republicans

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

A full accounting of the recently-released survey on the television viewing patters of voters from both political parties shows that Republicans tend to watch more mainstream, broadcast television shows –  reality competition shows in particular – 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 2009-10 TV season– found that more than two-thirds 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 also over indexed on character-driven reality and scripted shows such as E!’s Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami, We Tv’s Bridezillas and Showtime’s Dexter.

“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 10 cable shows made the top 25 among Republicans, 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 rejected cable, however. Republicans tended to gravitate to lifestyle networks like HGTV – shows like HGTV’s Property Virgins, Color Splash, Unsellables and Dear Genevieve “which likely appeal to wealthier suburban Republicans,” according to Fetto –all rank within the Republican top 25 list.

While no program appeared on both the Republican and Democrat top 25 lists, Fetto said that there is some bi-partisan consensus between the two parties further down on the charts.

“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.”

Top Republican Programs (non-news, non-music)

Program                                                       Republican Index*

The Amazing Race (CBS)                                          132

Dancing With The Stars Results Show (ABC)         129

Property Virgins (HGTV)                                           125

Modern Family (ABC)                                                 124

American Idol (Fox)                                                    122

V (ABC)                                                                         122

Modern Marvels (History)                                         121

Color Splash (HGTV)                                                  120

Unsellables (HGTV)                                                    120

The Big Bang Theory (CBS)                                       119

The Good Wife (CBS)                                                  119

The Mentalist (CBS)                                                    119

America’s Got Talent (NBC)                                       118

Leverage (TNT)                                                           118

Survivor (CBS)                                                              118

Dancing With The Stars (ABC)                                    117

Numb3rs (CBS)                                                             117

18 Kids and Counting (TLC)                                        116

Dear Genevieve (hgtv)                                                 116

Desperate Housewives (ABC)                                     116

What Not To Wear (TLC)                                            116

Diners, Drive-ins & Dives (Food Network)               115

House Hunters (HGTV)                                               115

NCIS(CBS)                                                                     115

Human Target (FOX)                                                  114

Top Democrat Programs (non-news, non-music)

Program:                                                               Democratic Index*

Real Time With Bill Maher (HBO)                                 165

Snapped (Oxygen)                                                           162

Sherri (Lifetime)                                                              153

Hawthorne (TNT)                                                           153

Live From The Red Carpet (E!)                                    149

Dexter (Showtime)                                                         147

Ugly Americans (Comedy Central)                               147

Kourtney & Khloe Take Miami (e!)                              146

Flashpoint (CBS)                                                             145

Toddlers & Tiaras (TLC)                                               145

United States of Tara (Showtime)                               144

Meet The Natives (Travel Channel)                            144

Bridezillas (WE)                                                               143

Top Chef Masters (Bravo)                                             142

Women Behind Bars (WE)                                             142

The Boondocks (Adult Swim)                                        142

Down Home With The Neelys (Food Network)          140

90210 (CW)                                                                     140

Daily Show With Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)       140

Dateline (NBC)                                                                136

Scare Tactics (SYFY)                                                     136

Wife Swap (ABC)                                                            136

America’s Next Top Model (CW)                                 135

Million Dollar Listing (Bravo)                                       135

Models Of The Runway (Lifetime)                             135

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

Source: Experian Simmons