Are You RedState? BlueState? Your TV will tell

If you already have your Obama 2012 placard in your yard and only wish he’d fought the Republicans more, chances are you’re watching a different television show than your neighbor with the Romney/Ryan poster and “We Built This” T-shirt, according to a new study.

Experian Marketing Services has released a study showing what shows to target to reach certain political demographics.

Super Democrats, as the study labels them, will likely be tuning into Jon Stewart’s Daily Show on Comedy Central while their Ultra Conservative counterparts are watching ESPN’s College Football Regular Season.

The Super Democrats go for ironic comedy (30 Rock, Modern Family, Saturday Night Live) and intense, explicit cable dramas (Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Shameless). They eschew sports, with the puzzling exception of hockey.

Across town, or maybe off in the suburbs, Ultra Conservatives watch mostly reality (Antiques Roadshow, Undercover Bosses, Dancing with the Stars), sports (football reigning) and crime procedurals (NCIS, Hawaii 5-O).

The study classified less firmly partisan people as “Mild Republicans” and “On the Fence Liberals.” Their viewing habits skewed younger and more eclectic, with the gunsmith reality show Sons of Guns high on the list for Mild Republicans and lots of comedy on the playbill for On the Fence Liberals.

The study fits in with my Theory of The Thinking of Blue State versus Red State People that Explains Everything. (The Theory has a long title.)

Mostly Democrat, mostly urban, Blue State people like thorny, complicated motives and suffer from an addiction to irony and allergy to corniness. Mostly Republican, more suburban, more religious Red State people like clear cut moral universes and react negatively to irony.

Two types of seeing the world, reflected in the movies we watch, the books we read (or don’t read) and the TV shows we watch.

Contrast this to decades ago, when most of America watched The Cosby Show or Cheers or Dragnet and compared notes the next day.

Is Charles Murry right? Are we truly coming apart?

  • regular joe

    hmm, looked at the source data and though I vote very conservative, my tastes and TV shows are all over the map. I don’t like the simplistic dumb motives and macho violence for violence sake that you ascribe to the pure Red State ethos, because they’re, well, simplistic and dumb. I do like ironic humor ala Blue State, though recognize it as a necessarily limited pleasure like good Scotch or smoking, unhealthy in any but modest doses. Guess I’m an outlier unable to fit in the neat bins assigned.
    I find Sowell’s concept of the Limited (or Tragic in Pinker’s terms) conservative political vision to the Unlimited (or Utopian) liberal vision to be the best fit to the data points of the sometimes astounding mix of policy ideas that fit in the two camps.
    Also interesting to note, is your Red/Blue theory, the data you cite, and most discussions of liberals vs conservatives really means white liberals vs conservatives (already assumed to be mostly white). When the tastes of the other core legs of the liberal coalition stool are added in, the results are funny, as the most Democratic beverage is Cognac (read black hip hop tastes), and Democrats committ the most gun crime by far (again, blacks). Red /Blue, conservative/ liberal aren’t helpful labels until the more fundemental labels of race/ ethnicity have been pre-sorted.

  • Diane

    This is inaccurate. I know because I LOVE ironic comedies, if that’s what you call them, and I’m pretty conservative. But my ultra liberal Berkeley friends like Dancing worth the Stars while my “won’t ever vote republican ” sister thinks NCIS is a worthy show. There, without much thought I provided three exceptions. And, why are you throwing Murray into the mix? His tv illustrations are only a small part of his larger thesis that posits Americans are separating themselves by education and income, losing the intermixing of social classes that was more common 50 years ago.

  • Abby

    This survey seems to imply that Conservatives are out of touch, unintelligent (can’t be entertained by anything too complicated), and apparently have no sense of humor. That’s too bad. My husband and I are very conservative- Romney is nowhere near conservative enough for us! But we love us some SNL, Daily Show, and 30 Rock. Parenthood and Project Runway are two of our favorite shows. Most of our conservative, same aged friends watch these shows as well. To me, this looks like a generational study more than a political study. It looks like they looked mostly at Baby Boomers. My mother-in-law fits right into their results! But I wonder what they would find if they looked mostly at Gen Xers.


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