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
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