TV Genre Preferences Reflect How US TV Viewers Vote

28 July 2004

According to Interpublic's Initiative Media, the political campaigns of John Kerry and George Bush should be focusing their attention on cartoon addicts and talk show enthusiasts.

The media shop's latest survey polled 1,000 US citizens about their favorite TV shows and other important issues such as political leanings.

Just over half the respondents classified themselves as 'decided voters', with Republican viewing habits revealed as home improvement programs, news, sports and reality TV. Democrats, it seems, are more general in their preferences and are amenable to many genres such as comedies, documentaries and dramas.

But with the remaining voters describing themselves as 'undecided' (37%), 'independent' (15%) or 'not voting' (12%), the implications for political campaigns and potential for winning over supporters are huge. And it's all about appealing to specific TV show devotees.

These key groups of floating voters could be swayed by targeting them as they indulge in their favorite cartoon program, talk show or reality TV slot. According to Stacey Lynn Koerner, Initiative's evp and director of global research integration: "The place to reach undecided voters is more often in the entertainment genres than news".

Politically unaffiliated voters prefer sports and documentaries to talk shows or dramas. The survey also found that their biggest political priority is healthcare followed by taxes. Undecided voters are equally concerned about health but rank education as the next most important political issue.

Amid the stereotyping, another global agency network Euro RSCG imposed a welcome note of cynicism. Co-founder Tom Messner got all anecdotal.

"The Clintons [were told] that if they wanted to attract the undecided voters, they must take a vacation in Wisconsin, because undecided voters like the outdoors ... poor Hillary and Bill traipsed around in a tent so they could appeal to undecided voters. Now we move from that to cartoons."

Data sourced from:; additional content by WARC staff