What Television Ratings Tell Us About The Democratic And Republican Conventions

Now that both parties have held their extended infomercials (aka conventions), data is coming in from polling that shows how the parties fared after the most tightly controlled, self-directed presentations they will be able to put before the public. The candidates will never have a better opportunity to cast themselves in the best possible light, free of any disruption or hindrance, save that which they produce themselves (i.e. Clint Eastwood).

Based on the post-convention polling that is trickling out, there is clear evidence that President Obama put on a better show and is enjoying the fruits of that success. Polls from Gallup, Reuters, CNN, and even the far-rightists at Rasmussen put Obama ahead of Romney by two to six points. The fabled convention bounce was plainly felt in the Obama camp, while the almost never heard of negative bounce struck Romney.

Their is another sort of survey that can be just as enlightening as these election polls. The TV ratings hold a wealth of information that, when analyzed, reveal a great deal about the electorate.

Let’s start with the fact that more Americans watched the Democratic Convention (9.4 million) than the Republican one (8.6 million) a week earlier. Even though the Democrats’ program was filled with well known political figures with whom the public is familiar, viewers still tuned them in in greater numbers than the new faces at the GOP affair that ought to have attracted more people seeking to learn about the ticket for the first time.

Despite the turmoil of the past four years, both imagined (Tea Party, Obama sCare) and real (economy, employment), Obama’s popularity is holding firm. In 2008 the President drew 38.3 million viewers to his convention nomination speech, and that’s when he was an emerging celebrity and the first African-American nominated for the presidency by a major political party. This year Obama drew 35.7 million viewers, a slight 7% decline from 2008. Romney, on the other hand, brought in only 30 million viewers, which was not only less than Obama, whom Republicans insist is an American pariah, but Romney’s audience was also 25% lower than John McCain’s in 2008. And not too many pundits will argue that McCain was a dynamic presence that wowed the masses. You should consider it a bad omen if you can’t outdraw John McCain.

The Republican convention was a feast for right-wing media. Fox News beat all of the other cable news networks, which is something they are accustomed to doing. However, they were in a much less familiar role during the Democratic convention – Dead Last! Fox’s ratings were more than cut in half as their viewers abandoned them rather than let Democrats into their liberally sanitized homes. It is apparent that the FoxPods have no interest in educating themselves about the political agendas of a party they regard as the enemy. So they sequester themselves in the dark until the bogie men and women are gone.

But the bigger story is that MSNBC achieved it’s first ever win of a full week of primetime against CNN and Fox during the Dems broadcast. That’s a significant accomplishment in the midst of an election campaign that is drawing viewers to all networks. To be sure, MSNBC and CNN performed worse during the GOP’s convention than the Democrats. However, they still saw bigger audiences than their non-convention averages, which shows that their viewers are more open to exposing themselves to diverse political opinions. That’s typical of liberals who value education, as opposed to the conservatives who watch Fox who reject science and have been shown through multiple studies to be significantly more misinformed than consumers of other media.

The ratings results from the whole two weeks of convention coverage confirm the analysis I did after the first night of the DNC when I wrote…

The FoxPods were faced with a dilemma. They had no intention of tuning in some other channel. But their pet channel was broadcasting {yuck} Democrats. So the Tea-publicans that make up Fox’s audience sucked it up and turned off Fox. […]

Pray For Fox NewsThis means that the Fox News audience made a deliberate choice to avoid any exposure to the party they regard as their enemy. They refused to listen to views that Fox has convinced them are dangerous and representative of foreign, Muslim, communist, and godless pagans. They voluntarily separated themselves from the heresy that might have infected their pious souls.

That is behavior consistent with cults. They make a point of disassociating with apostates and blasphemers who might divert them from the true path. Even if those “threats” are close family members. The cult leaders demand strict loyalty. And that is precisely what Fox News gets from their disciples.

Make no mistake…Fox is a religion that compels its adherents to be faithful, to abide by prescribed standards of behavior, and to refrain from dissenting from the orthodoxy. Those rules go for the prominent and powerful as much as they do the little folks in the pews. That’s what prompted former Bush speechwriter David Frum to lament that “Republicans originally thought that Fox worked for us, and now we are discovering we work for Fox.”