Not only is the Republican primary pushing away voters, it is also turning off cable news watchers. Case in point, ratings leader Fox News saw a 17% decline in viewership in March.
March 2012 has been a big downer for Fox News compared to the same time in 2011. With only the Republican primary to cover, Fox News is down 17% overall in total viewers and 27% with younger viewers. The Fox decline in prime time was only 9% overall, but they dropped 26% with younger viewers. Only two shows in the entire Fox lineup grew from March 2011, Fox and Friends and On The Record With Greta Van Susteren. For the first quarter of 2012, Fox News has lost 5% of their total viewers, and 10% of their younger viewers.
Remember when CNN decided to sell itself out, and climb in bed with the tea party? Compared to what is happening over at CNN, Fox News looks great. In March 2011 CNN surged in the ratings thanks to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, but with only the Republican primary to discuss, CNN’s viewership has taken a nosedive. Compared to March 2011, CNN has lost 50% of its viewers, and 60% of their younger viewers. For the first quarter of 2012, CNN is down 21% in total viewers, and 60% with younger viewers. I guess maybe putting all of their eggs in the 2012 Republican basket wasn’t such a hot idea. (Run, Anderson Cooper run)!!
MSNBC, which has not been devoting as much time to the Republican primary, saw their viewership grow by 3% in March, even though their numbers with younger viewers fell by 3%. For the first quarter of 2012, MSNBC is up 1% overall, but down 6% with younger viewers. MSNBC also has two shows on the rise. Hardball was up 23% in March, and Politics Nation with Al Sharpton was up 32% over what Cenk Uygur did in the same time slot in March of 2011. (It looks like MSNBC made the right call on Uygur, and honestly, he is a much better fit on Current than he ever was at MSNBC).
The Republican primary is such a downer that it is hurting the ratings of the two networks who gave it the most coverage. The reason why Fox News stopped dedicating so much airtime to the GOP primary is that it was hurting their ratings. (Not even Republicans want to watch this stuff). It is also starting to look like CNN made another epically disastrous decision by climbing in to bed with the tea party. CNN’s shift to the right has been an epic failure. CNN gambled that GOP 2012 would be just as hot with viewers as the Obama/Clinton Democratic contest was in 2008.
The problem for those who were expecting a 2012 ratings boon is that Romney/Santorum has been the complete opposite of Obama/Clinton. The only thing that Mitt Romney’s gloom and doom, and Rick Santorum’s Old Testament revival tour have accomplished is the alienation of millions of voters.
The Obama/Clinton contest was unique because it not only got Barack Obama elected, it also rehabilitated Hillary Clinton’s image and turned her into one of the most popular political figures in the United States. It can be argued that both Obama and Clinton came out winners after the 2008 Democratic primary.
In contrast, there are no winners in the 2012 Republican primary. Instead of evolving into a good candidate, Mitt Romney has devolved into oatmeal. His opponents, Santorum, Gingrich, and Paul have become some of the least liked candidates in modern primary history. Republicans are so unenthused about their choices in 2012 that they are depressed by their own primary.
The Republican primary has accomplished something incredible. It made viewers turn off Fox.
Mr. Easley is the founder/managing editor and Senior White House and Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA.Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association