Divided we stand

A new poll underscores the differences between conservatives and liberals.


Tim Grieve
November 13, 2007 6:56PM (UTC)

Barack Obama may be right about all that unites us -- awesome God in the blue states, gay friends in red states, etc. -- but a new poll from Zogby and the Norman Lear Center shows how hard it may be to overcome what divides us.

The pollsters set out to examine connections between Americans' political views and the sources to which they turn for news and entertainment. Some of the results are to be expected: Seventy percent of conservatives said they watch Fox News on a daily basis, while only 12 percent of moderates and liberals said they do. But other results show that the left-right polarization is both broader and deeper than one might think: Conservatives and liberals like different kinds of TV shows and movies, listen to different kinds of music and read different kinds of books. Conservatives "overwhelmingly" believe that TV shows and movies "very often" contain political messages and almost never watch MTV; liberals steer clear of game shows and reality TV but really, really like "60 Minutes."

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Liberals, the pollsters found, were "much more likely" than conservatives to tune in to commentary and entertainment with which they disagree politically. The result: The "potential audience" for, say, Rush Limbaugh is "larger than that of liberal competitors because more liberals say they will listen to conservatives than vice versa."

So where do we agree? We all like a TV show called "House" -- well, not all of us, at least insofar as we've never heard of it -- and huge majorities on both sides say they check out the news every day and enjoy watching football.


Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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