Fox News Audience Abandons Ship After Obama Wins

As further evidence of the tunnel-vision conservatism of Fox News, the Nielsen ratings for election night show just how intolerant their audience is of any information that is undesirable or contrary to their worldview.

As the broader television audience peaked into the evening, those watching CNN and MSNBC remained attentive to breaking news and analysis throughout the night. However, those watching Fox News switched off their media feeding tube shortly after the network declared that President Obama had been reelected.

Fox News Election Night Ratings

This chart reveals the precipitous relative decline in viewers that occurred only on Fox News. Some folks may speculate that Fox’s audience simply got tired and went to bed because the network skews older than the other channels and the geezers were sleepy. However, the percent decline for the total audience and the younger 25-54 year old demographic were nearly identical. Others may simply conclude that Fox’s conservative viewers just weren’t interested in anything they might have learned after the race was called. But that’s precisely the point.

Rather than be subjected to news that they found discomforting, the Fox audience turned away, even from their own partisan choice for what they think is news. The reelection of the President must have come as a something of a shock to Fox viewers because Fox had been relentlessly positive about Mitt Romney’s inevitable success, while portraying Obama as a failure who was destined to be rejected for a second term by a populace who despised him. Fox disparaged any polling that showed Obama ahead as biased and unreliable – even their own.

By shutting off Fox News early, they missed the spectacle of Fox contributor Karl Rove challenging the election analysis of his colleagues at the network. He insisted that the call on Ohio was premature and that he thought Romney would take the state. This resulted in anchor Megyn Kelly marching down to the newsroom to seek affirmations from the analysis staff of their projections. As it turned out, Rove was wrong, along with most of the partisan pundits that litter the Fox schedule.

The sharp drop-off in viewership that occurred only on Fox reveals the sensitivity that the Fox viewer has to actual, truthful information. That is something that Fox exploits eagerly as they load up their programming with false and prejudicial stories. And that accounts for why Fox viewers have been shown to be so much less informed than consumers of news from other sources. They have such an aversion to anything other than Fox’s pre-seasoned, right-wing brand of pseudo-knowledge that they won’t even stayed tuned to Fox if there is a chance they might be exposed to raw reality.

Update: On Wednesday night Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell handily beat their Fox competition (Hannity and Van Susteren) in the 25-54 demo.


17 thoughts on “Fox News Audience Abandons Ship After Obama Wins

  1. Don’t forget that fox makes a shit load of money doing it too. Great article.

  2. There’s no label for the vertical axis. What are these numbers? Overall viewers? 25-54 viewers? Percentage share?

    • It’s the number of total viewers. I didn’t show the data because the only point I wanted to make is the pattern over the three hour time period.

      By the way, the pattern on the chart for 25-54 was identical.

      • That’s just lazy and intellectually dishonest.

  3. How ridiculous is this article!! OF COURSE the Conservative Fox viewers turned it off after Obama was announced as the winner—-it was OVER. There was no reason to continue to watch. It is that simple! And of course CNN and MSNBC viewers continued to watch those liberal channels—-because they were being fed their daily milk after the win. This is a non-informational article.

    • Spoken like a true Fox viewer who doesn’t see the need to learn anything that is contrary to their worldview. If something comes on TV that you don’t like, just turn it off and it doesn’t exist anymore.

      I didn’t like it when Bush was reelected, but it wasn’t “OVER.” There was still a lot of post-election analysis, exit polling, and commentary to add context to the news. You can learn more than just what happened, but how it happened and what comes next.

      Anyone who is intellectually curious doesn’t just shut down their brain when something they don’t like happens.

  4. I don’t understand this article at all. I kind of have to agree with Susan here. Guys, it was midnight. Their candidate lost. They just went to sleep. Hell, I went to sleep around midnight, too, because I had work the next morning.

    (Before work, I had time to watch The Daily Show I had DVR’d the night before, so that was delightful.)

  5. Well that would be because the average age of a Fox News watcher is something like 65? They go to sleep around 8pm usually.

  6. This could also have to do with non-conservatives watching FoxNews just for the comedy value. I know that myself, and apparently many like minded people on Facebook tuned in to Fox just to watch the spectacle. When I couldn’t take any more antics, I switched back to real journalism.

    • Really?

      We had the TV turned off and were lazily following the election via different internet sites. It wasn’t until Ohio was called that we decided to turn on the TV and tune in to Fox for the comedic gold considering the likes of Rove were absolutely and positively without a doubt convinced that Romney was going to win in a landslide.

      Karl did not disappoint…not in the least.

  7. Rove was expecting the OH voting machines to do something different. The cheaters lost this time.

  8. Yes, clearly it’s because they can’t handle factual information, and not simply because Ohio was called at 11:30, sealing the deal, and there wasn’t really any reason to keep watching at that point.

  9. Sorry Mark, but: “Fox viewers have been shown to be so much less informed” is just not true. I want to believe it too, but the truth matters. Here is the Politico PolitiFact article rebutting this talking-point:

  10. Geez, I really, really, really hate Fox News and hardcore republicans, but even I have to think “wtf, duh~” when reading this article. The day after, my wife pitied republicans, saying, “I feel sorry for them. If Obama had lost, I’d feel horrid. I can only imagine what they are feeling.” So of course they don’t want to continue watching the coverage. Why purpose would it serve them? How does it indicate their failure to comprehend facts? Why continue watching a football game after the half if your team is down by 5 touchdowns? (Poor analogy, since in the election’s case, the game was already over!)

    • The reason that football is a poor analogy is that the results of a football game do not impact the lives of millions of people in a direct and significant manner. Other than your preference for your favorite team, the loss is ultimately meaningless. However, the loss of a presidential election has repercussions that will have an impact on you for years via taxes, wars, health care, jobs, environment, education, and on and on.

      You can’t stay up for that??? You are actually making my point. Anyone who would just turn off the TV and go to bed after something as important as this (as if it were only a friggin football game) is dense as hell and doesn’t seem to have much concern for the welfare of their country.

      The game, most definitely, is not over.

  11. And some of those viewers were people like me who never watch Faux Snooz but tuned in that night just to watch them squirm like worms on a hook.

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