Political leanings have a lot to do with what you watch
It’s not imaginary: Political philosophy strongly shapes our preferences in television and leisure time.
“Red-taste” conser vatives love Fox News, are suspicious of Hollywood and ignore arty programming, while “blue-taste” liberals adore NBC, embrace commentary and flock to Hollywood movies, according to new research.
“The difference between conser vatives and liberals goes much deeper than politics, involving much deeper patterns of thinking and behavior,” said a survey of close to 4,000 adults released Nov. 12 by Zogby International and the University of Southern California (USC).
“It’s quite likely that if conservatives like it, liberals hate it,” the survey said.
Eight out of 10 liberal respondents, for instance, admit that they are entertained by material that is in “bad taste.” Among conservatives, 40 percent emphatically said they were “never” entertained by such things.
And while more than threequarters of conservatives said TV programming and movies “very often” contain political messages, just 4 percent said they take away any meaningful lessons. They also get territorial over politically charged content: Twenty-two percent of conservatives said they never enjoy entertainment that reflects values other than their own; 7 percent of liberals agreed.
Sixty-eight percent of liberals seek out entertainment that contains political themes and commentary. Half of them also favor arts programming, compared with 17 percent of conservatives.
Seventy percent of conservatives watch Fox News daily, compared with just 3 percent of liberals. NBC is their broadcast network of choice, watched by 70 percent of them.
Like their politics, the two groups have “polarized” entertainment tastes, the sur vey found.
“Liberals say they like entertainment with a political flavor, while conservatives eschew such programming out of suspicion that it is tainted with a liberal bias. Instead, they favor news or reality television. Conservatives love spor ts programming, in part because there’s no way to inject liberalism into a football game,” the survey said.
The two groups are in concert in some areas, though.
Majorities on both sides agree they can spot that ideology: Sixty-six percent of conservatives and 55 percent of liberals said if they know a person’s taste in entertainment, they can accurately predict their political leanings.
“Tell me what you watch and listen to and read, and I’ll tell you how you vote,” noted Martin Kaplan, director of the Norman Lear Center at USC, where analysts spent five months poring over the findings.
In addition, more than 70 percent of respondents from both sides watch the news of their choice daily.
In general, conser vatives favor live sporting events over movie theaters, theater, museums or art galleries. In fact, 21 percent said they never go to the movies, compared with 8 percent of liberals.
In music, conservatives favor classical, country and rock in that order — but more than 90 percent ardently shun reggae, Latin, world beat or punk fare. Rock rules the liberals, favored by more than two thirds — followed by an omnivorous mix of “almost ever y other music genre,” including rap, folk, Latin and other styles.
The survey of 3,939 adults in 48 states was conducted online from June 26 to June 29 and has a margin of error of 1.6 percentage points.