MSNBC is growing four times faster than Fox News in prime time, and research shows that increased viewership for MSNBC makes a viewer more likely Democratic in the next election.
According to a statement from MSNBC provided to PoliticusUSA, the network’s primetime viewership is surging, “MSNBC’s weekday primetime programming (M-F 8-11pm) in 1Q17 topped CNN in total viewers for the 4th straight quarter and delivered its largest A25-54 demo audience in five years (since 4Q12). MSNBC prime’s year-to-year growth more than quadrupled its competition in total viewers (+68% vs. CNN’s -18% and FOX News’ +16%) and more than tripled the growth of its competition in A25-54 demo (+54% vs. CNN’s -12% and FOX News’ +15%) compared to 1Q16. MSNBC prime was the 3rd most-watched network in all of cable for the quarter in total viewers, behind only FOX News and ESPN. MSNBC is the 2nd fastest-growing cable network in weekday prime for both total and demo audiences (behind MLB Network) – the largest absolute gain of any cable network over 1Q16 for both demos.”
A 2014 Stanford University study revealed that increased viewership by Fox News viewers and MSNBC viewers increased the viewer’s likelihood of voting Democratic (MSNBC) or Republican (Fox News).
As Bloomberg reported on the study in 2015, “For those who end up watching Fox because of channel position, just four additional minutes of weekly viewing increases the probability of intending to vote for the Republican presidential candidate by 0.9 percentage points. For those who watch MSNBC, four such additional minutes decreases the probability of intending to vote for the Republican presidential candidate by about 0.7 percentage points. With one hour of viewing per week, the effects are greater. In 2008, an hour of MSNBC decreased the likelihood of a Republican vote by about 3.6 percentage points. In the same year, watching Fox for an hour increased the likelihood of a Republican vote by 3.5 points.”
Rachel Maddow’s more than one hundred percent increase in viewership could translate to real Democratic votes in 2018. The slow growth at Fox News could be taken as an omen of voter complacency that could spell real trouble for Republicans who find themselves already saddled with an unpopular president and disliked agenda.
Cable news viewership can be interpreted as a sign of motivation and involvement by voters. Potential 2018 Democratic voters appear to be extremely motivated while Republicans may be suffering from a 2016 hangover.
It all could change by next November, but the changes in cable news viewership that are happening should not be dismissed. There is something happening on the ground as Democrats could be readying for a major pushback in 2018.
Mr. Easley is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a 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