Voters Gonna Vote – Has Liberal Hollywood Produced (Half) a Nation of Haters?
Okay, Doc is going to be up-front about this: regardless of the outcome, Doc hereby agrees to abide by the certified results of the upcoming presidential election. There, he said it. Anderson Cooper, you can stop calling now.
But seriously, election season is mana from heaven for data analysis junkies like Doc and his pals. So many polls! So many data points! So many trends and subsets and margins of error! It’s going to be hard to get back to normal after so many months of high-leverage number crunching.
Doc may just have to hunker down and re-review the Brexit referendum results until the withdrawal tremors subside.
But Doc was curious to see how the Clinton/Trump battle royal was playing out in pop culture. What cultural preferences look to be ascendant, and which might be in decline? What popular passions are driving the voting blocks inside the U.S.?
As there always are, there were some surprises and some confirmations of conventional wisdom. (It will come as no surprise, for instance, that Trump fans dig Ted Nugent and The Patriot.) But underlying all of these specific preferences and antipathies, the data suggests an unsettling meta-question that, on most days, Doc would prefer not to ask.
Being a man of science, however, he is going to swallow hard, bite the bullet and wonder out loud: Is pop culture really just for liberals/Democrats? Has Hollywood failed the conservative/Republican half of the country?
Now, Doc has heard AM talk radio hosts voice those sentiments before, but he always assumed that it was just angry right-wing shock jocks demonizing Hollywood for effect. But the numbers from Ranker Insights suggest that there may be something to it.
Let’s start with some basics: Ranker users, by and large, go onto sites like Ranker to voice support for their favorite personalities and cultural products. Most users giving us data are doing so because they like a certain item, pushing it up the respective lists with their votes, and occasionally voting down entries they feel are less deserving.
If you look at Ranker’s correlation data, you’ll see the majority of cross-referenced preferences are positive: If a user likes A, she’ll probably like B, C and maybe D, but probably won’t like Z. But overall, it usually paints an upbeat picture: People like more things than they dislike.
Trump fans? Not so much. Not much at all, actually.
Crunch the numbers and you discover that you’re through the looking glass: They’re more likely to vote against stuff than for it. Of the movies that have a strong enough correlation to Trump fans, 70% of those movies summon an aggregate dislike, rather than support. Look at the music preferences, and 81% of them are more likely to be downvotes than upvotes.
It’s hard to stress just how unusual this is. Hillary’s breakdowns are a lot more typical. For the 95 musical acts and releases that correlate with Hillary fans, 61 of them, or 64% are positive associations. Among the movies, 52% are positive associations… a lot closer to the norm for Ranker fan categories.
Well, Doc thought to himself, maybe that’s just Trump, who’s notoriously polarizing and liable to elevate the “haters” among his constituents.
Doc ran the numbers for a (slightly) less polarizing guy, our last Republican Prez, George W. Bush. Now even though W. has repeatedly declined to endorse Trump’s Republican candidacy, the pop culture numbers of their fans are comparable: W fans are more likely to dislike a movie (65/35) or musical artist (76/24) than they are to like them.
What about Ronald Reagan? As our sunniest and most fondly-remembered Republican President—as well as the only one to make the leap to the White House from Hollywood—surely those fans would be better disposed towards pop culture, right? The numbers are a little better, but still, fans of the Gipper dislike more movies (53/47) and music (61/39) than they actually like at all.
(We also ran numbers for fans of moderate Republican poster boy Paul Ryan, but the sample was small enough that Doc doesn’t feel confident enough to share them. But for the record, they looked a lot like Trump’s.)
Others on the Democratic/liberal side, on the other hand, reflect the numbers of Clinton fans. Fans of President Obama like more music than they dislike by a 71/29 spread, and like more movies by a 55/45 margin. (President Obama fans also watch enough television for TV to get a cross-tab; they’re more likely to like a given show by a 63/37 breakdown.) Looking at fans of Clinton’s spirited primary rival Bernie Sanders shows that they’re also more likely to like a musical act (64/36) or TV show (67/33) than dislike it; Sanders fans do, however, show their angry maverick side when it comes to movies, which are more likely to be rejected than embraced, by a Trump-like margin of 84/16. (It’s probably too late to turn the tide, but if Trump wants to try and find that elusive common ground with the Bernie voters, he might consider hosting a cross-country series of screenings of Tommy Boy.)
Here’s a few more numbers to round out the picture. Among Ranker users, all current politicians draw negative overall approval numbers. That is to say: Ranker is not a particular haven of Hillary/Bernie fans versus Trump/Bush fans. Of all of the politicians mentioned in this article, only Reagan has an overall net positive approval rating. Ranker users overall disapprove of Trump (60/40) by virtually the same margin they disapprove of Hillary (57/43). So it’s not like Ranker users have a particular love for Hillary herself. But her fans, like most Ranker users, like more pop culture than they dislike. Not so for Trump and his Republican cohorts.
Finally, the results for Trump/Republicans are true only of fans of the politicians and not fans of the pop culture itself; the relationship isn’t reciprocal
Doc is sorry if that sounds confusing, but here’s what it means.
As noted above, Trump fans are most likely, by far, also to be fans of Ted Nugent. However, when you cross reference with fans of the Motor City Madman himself, the Hollywood/pop culture antipathy vanishes. Turns out, fans of The Nuge like movies, TV shows and music in proportions that look a lot more like Democrats/everyone else than they resemble Trump fans. The same is true for fans of The Patriot: As a group, their preferences are a lot more typical than those of the Trump fans. Basically, it’s the fans of Republican politicians—and only Republican politicians—who are more likely to reject popular culture than they are to embrace it.
As for what this means in a larger cultural sense (and what Washington and/or Hollywood might want to do about it), Doc is a lot less sure of himself. Doc admits, he always considered pop culture to be one of those things that binds us together even when politics pulls us apart.
But even that may be wishful thinking, as it turns out. All election season, we’ve been told that we’re a divided nation. Maybe Doc shouldn’t have been surprised to see it played out so starkly in Ranker’s data, but there it is. It’s too much to expect us to all like the same movies and music, but Doc thought that everybody at least liked movies and music in general. He can hear the response now, cutting into his train of thought, just like during those debates – “WRONG.”
Either way, Doc encourages you to vote on Nov. 8, both at your designated polling place and on Ranker.com.