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If you watch 'Colbert' or 'Doctor Who,' we know if you'll vote for McCain or Obama

Oops. Be careful what you let out to co-workers about your television viewing habits.

It turns out the folks over at Nielsen Co., who've been reporting how many people A scene from Deadliest Catch that covers crab fishermen on the deadly Bering Seawatched each one of these presidential and VP television debates this fall, can also eerily detect our political proclivities from what programs we prefer.

No, really!

Some shows attract a truly bipartisan audience, both Republicans and Democrats (and maybe even some of Bob Barr's Libertarian crowd and still-mourning Ron Paulites) are drawn to closely watch and enjoy the programs.

But if you spontaneously blurt out, for instance, too much about, oh, say, episodes of "South Park" or "Deadliest Catch," the Nielsen people (and advertisers who want to reach certain segments of the population) can pretty much predict whether you're gonna vote for Republicans John McCain and Sarah Palin or Democrats Barack Obama and Joe Biden come Nov. 4.

Kinda creepy, isn't it?

Nielsen does this by measuring what it calls "engagement." Researchers ask a scientific sampling of people about the content oSouth Park charactersf their favorite programs (sports excluded).

Those who know the most about a cable program are deemed more "engaged."

These results are then matched with each individual's self-reported political affiliation or independence.

We're gonna play a little bipartisan game here now. We'll give you a long list of assorted cable programs. See which ones you like to watch and remember the most about. And guess which ones are "Democratic," "Republican" or "bipartisan."

And then click on the Read more line to see which shows are preferred by which group(s). See how many you get right.

"South Park," Battle 360," "Damages," "Cash Cab," "Doctor Who," "The Bill Engvall Show," Rock of Love."

Also, "Deadliest Catch," "Ax Men," "Colbert Report," "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," "I Love New York, "My Boys, "Tin Man."

Also, "In Plain Sight," "Saving Grace," "The Hills," "Army Wives," "What Not to Wear," "Design Star," "The Next Star," "The Real Housewives of Orange County," "The Cleaner." 

--Andrew Malcolm

We can also tell you are among the most intelligent people on the planet if you go here now and register for free alerts to your cellphone of each new Ticket item.

OK, here are the answers:

The first paragraph grouping of shows has the highest engStephen Colbert of comedy Centralagement among Republicans.

The second paragraph grouping shows the highest engagement among Democrats.

And the third paragraph grouping is for losers. No, just kidding. The third group of shows has the highest bipartisan (and independent) engagement.

If none of these programs are among your favorites, then, sorry, you'll have to move to Canada where you'll get pretty much the same shows, but there are a whole lot more commercials for tea.

And if any of these shows doesn't match your voting tendency, there's only one real solution. Since you obviously can't change your TiVo settings, you'll just have to vote differently in 13 days. There's no other way around it.

Won't that throw off all the polls?

--Andrew Malcolm

Source: The Nielsen IAG Co.

Photo credits: "Deadliest Catch" (top); "South Park" (middle); "The Colbert Report" (bottom).

Comments () | Archives (9)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Er...I only watch South Park and Colbert Report. I guess I'm just confused...

I watch "Doctor Who" and "In Plain Sight," and I watched "Tin Man" when it was on.

No Unbound, I don't think you and I are the ones who are confused.

Republicans like watching Dr. Who? I'm a Republican and I watch the show, I can even quote the entire Doomsday episode, but somehow I thought it would be Dems who like the show more. There's plenty of non-violent problem solving and moral ambiguity in every episode since RTD got his hands on the show.

I'd say I watch South Park, Colbert Report and The Daily Show regularly, but I don't watch much television in any case.

I'm kind of surprised to see South Park in the Republican category. Trey Parker and Matt Stone have long been labeled as being Libertarians, but I think as far as the show is concerned it just means there's equal skewering of both the left and right--which I would guess would give it a bi-partisan appeal.

I do have to say that of all the comedy shows out there, I think South Park comes closest to throwing darts at both ends of the political spectrum equally.

As a Canadian, I'd like to clear up a misconception in your blog entry.

While the proportion of tea ads *is* higher, CRTC regulations limiting the total number of commercials mean we get the same number of ads.

WOW!! That is creepy... I'm a Republican and they nailed that one on the head. I've been a life long Dr. Who fan, as well as South Park. I think Battle 360 is on the Military channel which I love anything off that channel being in the Air Force.

The thing is I also like Deadliest Catch although I dont have that programmed under "High Priority" on my DVR like I do the other shows...LOL

Interesting, but I'd say not probably the best predictor.

I watch Cash Cab a lot, and I've watched and loved Doctor Who since I was a kid. But I also really enjoy the Daily Show and the Cobert Report, and think that It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is great.

Besides that, I watch shows that are random and nerdy (Antique Roadshow) or fairly popular (Chuck, Heroes, and My Name Is Earl).

I wonder what those shows say about me?

I watch a smattering of all those shows. I am confused as to why Doctor Who would appeal primarily to Republicans, especially considering all the Liberal focuses of it. South Park is also somewhat confusing to me. Despite the fact that the characters in the show are often hardcore Conservative, mocking the left wing, they are so very hardcore that they are almost mocking the Republican party itself. Ah, who am I kidding? The people at South Park clearly are making fun of everyone. I'm suprised that the show would have a specifice fanbase. The same is true of Colbert.

As for your overall statistics, they are quite wrong. I am a moderate Democrat and yet I actually appear to view more "Republican" programs, with "Demoncrat" programs in a close second.

lol. i started watching south park past few weeks and they are making me lol, i cant help it. those 4 boys are realy funny especially eric.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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