Report

Partisanship and Cable News Audiences

  • October 30, 2009

The recent debate over the partisan composition of cable news network audiences has focused on data from the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press. As the Pew Research Center reported in the 2008 biennial news media consumption survey, there are stark differences in the partisan composition of the Fox News Channel, CNN and MSNBC audiences. And each cable network's audience profile differs from the partisan balance of the public at large by approximately the same amount.

Among regular Fox News Channel viewers, 39% identified as Republican, 33% as Democrats and 22% as independents. Among regular CNN viewers, 51% identified as Democrats, 23% were independents and just 18% were Republicans. In short, Democrats comprise a larger share of the Fox News audience than Republicans do of CNN's audience.

However, it should be noted that there are more Democrats than independents or Republicans in the general public. In the 2008 news consumption survey on which this analysis is based, 36% identified as Democrats, 29% as independents and 25% as Republicans.

In terms of partisan affiliation, the audiences for both news networks differed substantially from the public. The Fox News audience was 14 points more Republican than the general public (39% vs. 25% of the public) and three points less Democratic. The regular CNN audience was 15 points more Democratic and seven points less Republican than the general public.

Read the full report Partisanship and Cable News Audiences on the Pew Research Center's Web site.