What your TV favourites say about your politics

Freddie SayersEditor-in-Chief of YouGov
February 06, 2014, 11:33 AM GMT+0

Last week we looked at a curious correlation we had noticed in our data between voting Lib Dem and being a Sci Fi fan. We've now widened the search to look at all three main parties

At YouGov we do over 500,000 interviews a month, on topics ranging from brands to politics, movies to spending habits. We also have a burgeoning community of members exchanging views, ratings and reviews on our website. In all, it leads to a lot of connected data about a huge range of things.

With the help of modern computing power and some clever algorithms, we are now starting to scan through that mountain of information and see what connections and correlations occur between otherwise unconnected things. Sometimes you can learn more observing people's tastes in other areas than asking them questions straight out.

We've connected our political data with the huge volumes of ratings and reviews of TV programmes that YouGov members leave on the website every day, to produce a list for each of the three main parties of the top 100 shows that each group tends to like in particular. Suggestions are not limited to TV currently showing.

The result gives a telling glimpse into the world view of each of the three main parties' quintessential voters.

First up, the Conservatives. Looking at the top 100 programmes by genre, we see that 43 of them are dramas of some kind - compared to just 29 of the Labour list and 8 of the Liberal Democrats. This is a group who responds to straight depictions of life's big choices. But looking in more detail, you see that programmes that present a somewhat sepia-tinted vision of Britain's better days are high in the list: Downton Abbey, To the Manor Born, Foyle's War and Land Girls.

It's also noticeable that TV talent shows such as Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor do particularly well with Tories - perhaps evidence of their relish for competition and celebration of talent rising to the top?

Labour voters, by contrast, seem to respond to a much more earthy depiction of modern Britain. Throughout the Labour list are programmes that take a wry but affectionate look at life in Britain as it really is for ordinary people. Peter Kay's Phoenix Nights, Coronation Street, The Office, The Royle Family - these are shows that both skewer and celebrate working people.

But once again it is the Liberal Democrats that have the strongest correlations - and therefore would seem to be most coherent as a type of person. The high number of Sci-Fi and supernatural programmes in the list (17 compares to just 2 for the Tories) has already been remarked on.

But there are two more very striking features. The top three in the list - QI, Mock the Week and Have I got News for You - are all humorous and left-field takes on the 'real world'.

Secondly, fully 50 per cent of the top 100 are comedies - compared to just 31 per cent of the Labour list and 16 per cent of the Conservative list. Many of them are comedies of a particularly surreal and kooky kind - Brass Eye, Spaced, the IT Crowd, Red Dwarf.

It seems that where both the Labour and Conservative parties appeal to the core voters with visions of Britain, albeit very different ones, the way to the Lib Dem heart may be to look elsewhere - to offer appealing visions of alternative futures and a left-field and humorous take on current affairs. In short, to boldly go where no man has gone before...

See the full results

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