The E-Poll Market Research Poll listed the Top Ten shows preferred by people self-identifying as Democrats and Republicans. According to the methodology section of the survey’s report:
E-Score analyzed more than 750 prime time broadcast, cable and streaming programs among Americans of voting age whose political affiliation is either Republican or Democrat and ranked the results for shows described as "One of My Favorites" by each group.
E-Score Programs is a monthly tracking survey that measures awareness, viewing and perceptions of more than 3,000 US television programs. Surveys are conducted monthly among a representative sample of US viewers with 1,200 respondents per show.
Here is a table of the shows preferred by Republicans (in Red) and Democrats (in Blue). Shows in Purple are in the top ten lists of both parties. The shows that I watch regularly are in italics.
|1||Game Of Thrones||HBO||Supernatural||CW|
|2||The Haves and the Have Nots||OWN||The Walking Dead||AMC|
|4||The Big Bang Theory||CBS||Arrow||CW|
|6||The Walking Dead||AMC||The Big Bang Theory||CBS|
|7||How To Get Away With Murder||ABC||NCIS||CBS|
|8||Doctor Who||BBCA||Blue Bloods||CBS|
|10||Nashville||ABC||Last Man Standing||ABC|
Fifty percent of the shows that I watch are exclusively on the Republican list, while the only Democratic show that I watch is actually bipartisan. Ergo, I am a Republican. Heaven help me. There’s probably a reason for this which I’ll get into later.
The poll offers some findings, the validity of which I’m not sure I can get behind but here they are.
Democrats prefer programs that are:
- Sexy: The top three shows described by Democrats as “sexy” were Game Of Thrones, The Haves and the Have Nots, Suits
- Emotionally involving
- Ethnically diverse or have strong characters: 3 of the top 10 shows: The Haves and the Have Nots, How to Get Away with Murder, and Empire all have a racially diverse cast and have powerful lead roles for women. This reflects the Democratic viewer who is also typically more diverse, with higher concentration of black and female supporters.
- Family-friendly: Half of the top ten shows on the Rebuplican list had more than 25% of respondents describing the shows as "Family Friendly" and air on broadcast television.
- Funny: Although there are only two outright comedies on the Republican list and one of those is also on the Democratic list.
- Plot driven or have storylines that involve "good vs. evil": Republicans enjoy clearer "good vs. evil" characters and storylines. They prefer shows featuring superheroes like The Flash, Arrow and the super intelligent team on Scorpion. Two procedural programs – NCIS and Blue Bloods – also have the "good vs. evil" component, as well as skewing slightly older than some other programs in the list.
So here’s what I take from the data as presented:
- Republicans prefer the broadcast networks almost exclusively – nine of the ten shows on the Republican list are on broadcast networks. The exception is The Walking Dead which is on AMC. By contrast half of the shows on the Democratic list are on broadcast, and one show Game Of Thrones is on premium cable.
- Republicans prefer shows that are “one and done”; in other words shows where the primary focus is not on a continuing arc, although such an arc may exist in a secondary or tertiary focus. Only one show that the Republican list has an ongoing story arc. At least half of the shows on the Democratic list have ongoing story arcs as a primary focus (Game Of Thrones, The Haves and the Have Nots, Walking Dead, How To Get Away With Murder, Doctor Who, Empire, and Nashville).
- The question of diversity is an interesting one. The Democratic list has probably the more diverse group, with The Haves and the Have Nots, How To Get Away With Murder and Empire either having a predominantly African-American cast or African-American leads, while How To Get Away With Murder and Nashville have female leads. None of the shows on the Republican list have African-Americans in leading roles, and of the shows that I watch on the Republican list, Scorpion, The Big Bang Theory, and Blue Bloods don’t have any African-Americans in their regular cast (I can’t speak to the shows I don’t watch). But is that an indictment of the taste of Republicans or is it a problem with the casting of these shows.
- The “law and order” shows. This is a bit of a stretch, but there’s a high percentage of shows that deal with “law and order” in the Republican list. NCIS and Blue Bloods are both overtly about law enforcement; NCIS is about a law enforcement agency while Blue Bloods is about a family of New York cops, including the police commissioner. Scorpion is about what are essentially private contractors working for the Department of Homeland Security. The lead characters in Grimm are cops dealing with supernatural threats, while the leads in The Flash and Arrow are costumed vigilantes working with the police. I think you could even argue that the characters in Supernatural are involved in some sort of protective operation, while The Walking Dead shows what happens after order breaks down.
So that explains, or at least investigates some aspects of the lists. So why do I watch the “Republican” shows that I do? Well Arrow and The Flash are easy. I’ve been a DC Comics fanboy since I was old enough to connect the words and the pictures together. DC, not Marvel. For some reason Spiderman and the Fantastic Four never did it for me. As for Blue Bloods and NCIS, that’s a bit more complicated. I’ve been a fan of both Mark Harmon and Tom Selleck since Selleck did Magnum and Harmon did, well probably Centennial (so not his earliest work in other words; I’m sure I never saw Sam and probably missed 240-Robert and I know I avaoided Flamingo Road on general principle). They were my gateways into their current shows but I’ve stayed because I really like the shows. I like the ensemble cast in NCIS and the way they’ve expanded the Gibbs character to give him a reason for being how he is. I like the ensemble cast in Blue Bloods as well and the fact that the show makes the personal, family lives of the characters not only visible but vital to the show, in repudiation of the Dick Wolf/Law & Order formula in which the characters have no lives outside of work – or at least no lives that we are permitted to know much about. In a way Blue Bloods is a family drama that just happens to be about a family of cops.
The reasons why I don’t watch more “Democratic” shows are a bit more complicated. Game of Thrones is of course on a premium channel although this summer, to coincide with the Olympics, CTV will air the complete first season – uncut – on broadcast TV. The Haves and the Have Nots doesn’t air up here, even though we have our own Oprah Winfrey Network here in Canada. Suits is another basic cable show in the US that I might like if I saw it, but the ways shows like that air in Canada it’s very difficult for me to find where and when it is on. I gave up on How To Get Away With Murder early in the second season when I came to the conclusion that there was absolutely no one on that show that I had any sympathy or empathy for. The subject matter of Nashville simply doesn’t interest me, Pretty much the same thing is true about Empire, and while I tried the first episode of Supernatural (and it has featured one of my favourite character actors, Jim Beaver, who is a scholar and a gentleman in so many ways) I had no desire to stick with it. (By the way, is it just me or are Supernatural and Grimm basically the same show?) As for Doctor Who, I love the series but I share my TV with someone who loathes it, and as most politicians eventually learn – though I’m not sure about some Replublicans in recent years – you’ve got to go along to git along, so I don’t get to see Doctor Who.
So there you have it. My viewing habits say that I’m a Republican, even though I’m just Canadian.