Politics and the Shows We Watch

From Lisa de Moraes:

What do you think? Accurate?

The list of top indexing shows popular among more left-leaning Democrats includes NBC’s “30 Rock,” “Parks and Recreation,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “The Office.”

Also on their Must-See-TV list are ABC’s “Modern Family” and “Cougar Town”; Fox’s “Glee” and “Raising Hope”; and Showtime’s daddy’s-a-drunk-and-hilarity-ensues series, “Shameless.”

They love CBS’s two late-night talkers, David Letterman and Craig Ferguson. They also gravitate toward Conan O’Brien — which may explain why he did so badly when he was hosting NBC’s “Tonight Show” airing directly opposite Letterman: They were splitting the vote!

Meanwhile, “Masterpiece” is the third highest indexing show among liberal Democrats, trailing only the two Comedy Central faux-news programs. “Masterpiece” indexes at a whopping “234,” which means a “Masterpiece” viewer is 134 percent more likely to be a liberal Democrat than the average adult viewer.

It’s one of two PBS programs in the liberal top 25 — the other is “American Masters.”

But before you go all “PBS is soooo liberal” on us: “This Old House” is the second highest indexing show among conservative Republicans. It indexes higher than even “The 700 Club.” PBS has three shows on the Conservative Index List, including “New Yankee Workshop” and “Antiques Roadshow.”

Conservative Republicans, the study says, really seek out shows in which blue-collar folk do stuff — stuff like huntin,’ fishin,’ pawnin,’ loggin’ and fat-farmin’.

Anyway, conservative Republicans go crazy for cable: “Swamp Loggers” and such other Discovery shows as “Mythbusters,” Man vs. Wild” and “Auction Kings”; History’s “Swamp People,” “Top Shot,” “Only in America With Larry the Cable Guy” and “American Pickers”; and BBC America’s “Top Gear.” They also gravitate toward ABC’s “The Bachelor” and the “Dancing With the Stars” results show; NBC’s “The Biggest Loser”; and CBS’s “Hawaii Five-O” and “NCIS.”

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  • Randy

    I guess I might as well give in. I love the liberal shows, and dislike a good number of conservative shows. I can’t believe conservatives like Mythbusters. Those guys would hate conservatives…especially evangelicals.

  • DSO

    Huh, I like shows from both groups. I don’t really care if the politics of the actors line up with me or not.

    Nothing from the Food Network or HGTV though.

  • Kenny Johnson

    Could it also be an age thing? Or geographic thing? Instead of just political? A lot of conservatives my age watch the NBC Thursday line up (Office, 30 Rock, Parks and Rec).

    I count myself a liberal, but enjoy shows like American Pickers and Mythbusters quite a bit.

    Have no interest in Swamp Loggers, Swamp People, Top Shot, Only in America, Top Gear, Bachelor, or Dancing with the Stars.

  • People actually watch “The 700 Club?”

  • EricG

    I agree with Kenny – from the underlying study it doesn’t look like they controlled for things like age or sex. So Antiques Roadshow may be a Republican show because older people watch it and tend to be more conservative. The same reasoning works for The Daily Show and young people. And explains the result that more Dems watch shows with lead women characters.

    (Of course, I better not tell my wife that only old people watch her fav, Antiques Roadshow!)

  • I would consider myself a liberal, but none of my shows are on the list. Big Bang, How I met Your Mother, Project Runway, Top Chef, Gray’s Anatomy. Should I be offended that I am among the uncounted 🙂

  • Since my favorite shows currently on television are Modern Family, Parks and Rec, 30 Rock, Daily Show and Colbert, I guess that means I’m staying true to my progressive beliefs!

    The thing is I know conservatives my age who also like those shows. I think it’s more that people under a certain age are more likely to 1. like those shows and 2. be more liberal. Correlation does not necessarily equal causation.

  • Susan N.

    ‘The Office’ is a favorite of mine. I enjoy most of the political satire of ‘The Daily Show’ and ‘The Colbert Report.’ Don’t watch any of the other “left-leaning” programs. Used to watch SNL, when I was younger, and when the show was at its prime (imho).

    Reality TV generally isn’t my thing. A few years ago, I watched ‘The Biggest Loser’ for a while, until Jillian’s characteristic coaching style irritated me enough to quit watching. I make one exception for reality TV: ‘Gene Simmons Family Jewels.’ I’m guessing that, somehow, it didn’t make the Conservative Republican cut 😀

    I like PBS, but usually watch shows like ‘American Experience’ or ‘Need to Know’ 🙂

  • DRT

    Like the liberal line up, but swing conservative with New Yankee Workshop, Mythbusters, This Old House and the Biggest Loser.

  • Rob Dunbar

    What? No “Dr. Who”? Or “Eureka”? Leaving aside the HGTV/Food Network lineup (which my 50-something conservative wife loves), sci-fi and mysteries reign in our family. So,that would include “Psych” and the two afore-mentioned series. I count myself as moderately conservative (think McCain/Huntsman).

  • Steve

    #1 Randy…do you base all of your media intake on whether the person making it would like you or not?

  • Wyatt

    The attraction toward viewing tawdry shows on TV seems to appeal to both sides of this study.

    Let’s move on or let’s do a confessional where the ones with real guts say what they truely watch and what in their heart of hearts they really want to watch.

    Now that would make for some real good chat.

    Should I start?

  • I’m a conservative, and I love Modern Family, as well as Community and Arrested Development (It’s coming back!), which I assume would also track left. I also like Mythbusters, but don’t have cable so I don’t get to watch often. Three of my favorite shows were recently cancelled: LOST, 24, and Friday Night Lights. Wonder where those would track?

  • Kenny Johnson


    I love shows like Pawn Stars and Storage Wars. Are those considered tawdry? I could watch a marathon of either of those shows. 🙂

    But the shows I generally find myself watching over and over are 80s and 90s sitcoms like Cheers, Frasier, Seinfeld, etc.

    But for my current favorites — the NBC Thursdays is really my heart of hearts really wants to watch.

    Sorry to disappoint. 🙂 I have been known to watch so TV-MA shows like Party Down, South Park, and others. . . But I don’t have cable so I generally catch those kind of shows on Hulu or Netflix.

  • Kenny Johnson


    I believe 24 was considered a conservative show. I consider myself liberal and really enjoyed the show. I was even an extra (though you’d need to pause and zoom to find me) in an episode of Season 3.

  • JBL

    I would find a poll more interesting about who is NOT watching TV and where they fall ideologically.

  • Kenny Johnson


    Not sure it would tell you much. Are conservatives not watching TV because it’s all smut and depraved. Are liberals not watching because it’s all mindless entertainment that just distracts from the real issues. Are conservatives not watching TV because its all liberal biased? Are liberals not watching because its just a mouthpiece for the status quo? 🙂

    Either way — most people I’ve met who claim they don’t watch TV tend to be pretty self-righteous about it.

  • James

    I never do fit these study outcomes. I’m a conservative and watch The Office, Modern Family, Morning Joe on MSNBC, NCIS, and 5-0. I didn’t know This Old House was still running, but I should. Mine’s 102 yrs old in a couple months. I wouldn’t watch the 700 Club to save my life, and I’m a fan of Top Gear.