Favorite Programs of Republicans & Democrats

As we did in 2016’s election cycle, we used E-Score Programs to find the top TV programs among Republicans and Democrats and identified several traits that explain their different preferences. In revisiting that analysis, it appears that networks have closed the gap and broadened their appeal to all sides of the political spectrum. 

Broadcast Programs

There are a handful of broadcast shows that appear on both the Democrat and Republican favorite programs lists. However, when looking deeper, the program genres on both lists reveal a lot more parity than they did in 2016. 

  • While half of the shows in the top 20 are not common for both parties, there are close similarities in genre indicating that program content and characters are possible difference makers.
  •  Only one broadcast show featured in 2016 has remained on both lists – The Big Bang Theory, which notably steers away from politically charged themes.
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine, with its diverse cast, is the top Democratic comedy, and Last Man Standing, starring a father with conservative views taking jabs at liberals, is the top comedy for Republicans.
  • Among broadcast shows, both parties have two shows in common in their top 10 and 7 shows in common in their top 20, the majority of which are Dramas.

Favorite Cable Programs

The top five cable or streaming programs are yet another example of growing similar interests among the two opposing political parties but the rest of the list paints a different picture.

  • Among the top cable shows for Republicans, 13 of the 20 programs score above 20% in Family Friendly compared to only four shows in the Democrat top 20, revealing a key attribute that attracts Republican viewers.
  • Sexy and Emotionally Involving are top attributes for Democrats in the series they loved both in 2016 and now.
  • Among cable programs, The Walking Dead and Stranger Things take the first two spots on lists for both political parties. 2016’s top show among Democrats, Game of Thrones, was not broadcast in 2018 but we will keep our eye on it, once it makes its highly anticipated return in 2019.
  • Broadcast programs score a higher average in top 10 One Of My Favorites than cable programs suggesting that network television is far from dead. It’s important to note that all shows on the broadcast list are also available on different streaming platforms.

Favorite Genres

Both parties may have their differences, but when it comes to their favorite genre, there is a clear winner. Dramas make up most of the favorite programs lists among Democrats and Republicans.

  • Reality is a popular genre in cable programs especially among Republicans, although the types of reality shows differ. Democrats favor relationship/social reality while Republicans favor documentary-style reality.
  • This Is Us is the second favorite drama for both Republicans and Democrats. The show scores highly in Emotionally Involving and Engaging.
  • Grey’s Anatomy is the top Drama among Republicans despite producer Shonda Rhimes’ liberal views. One representative comment from a Republican viewer says: “Good energy, love the characters and situations, just the right amount of drama.”
  • Chicago Fire, Med, and PD are all dramas that both parties have in their top favorites lists.

Measuring Political Affiliation

All E-Score data can be cut by consumers’ political affiliation. We plan to look at favorite brands by political affiliation for an upcoming topic. To see previous examples of E-Score research measuring the political divide, click here.


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