Politics

Republicans who don't regularly watch Fox are less likely to support Trump

Republicans who get their news from mainstream, non-conservative media are less likely to support Donald J. Trump than those who follow conservative media. And a significant number in the first group say they think Mr. Trump acted criminally, according to a recent New York Times/Siena College poll.

That division could affect his standing among Republicans in the general electorate — a decidedly different group from GOP primary voters. This aligns with research that shows that changing the media habits of Fox News consumers can actually change their views.

One hundred percent of Republicans in our poll who said they get their news from Fox News or other conservative sources said they intend to support Mr. Trump in the general election. This contrasts with Republicans whose primary media sources are outlets like CNN and major news organizations: 79% of them plan to vote for Mr. Trump, and 13% said they plan to vote for the president Biden.

And in many ways, mainstream Republican media are less supportive of Mr. Trump. They are 20 percentage points less likely than Republicans in conservative media to say they are enthusiastic about Mr. Trump as the party's nominee and more than 30 percentage points less likely to say that Mr. Trump's policies have helped them personally .

Despite the perception that most Republicans watch Fox News, the share of Republicans who say they get their news from sources like CNN and major newspapers is similar to the share who say they primarily consume conservative media — about 30 percent in each case.

These Republicans differ from conservative media consumers primarily by their ideology: They were much more likely to describe themselves as politically moderate. Nikki Haley had about 30 percent support among these Republicans and 4 percent among conservative media consumers (the poll was taken before Ms. Haley withdrew from the race).

Researchers have long pondered a sort of chicken-and-egg question between conservatism and conservative media: Does watching more conservative media change your perspective, or are you more drawn to it because from your points of view? Two political scientists, David Broockman of Berkeley and Joshua Kalla of Yale, conducted an experiment to try to answer this question.

“We know from our other research that many Fox News viewers are in an echo chamber and are quite conservative,” Mr. Broockman said. “There is a lot of skepticism that strong supporters cannot be won over and we wanted to challenge that assumption.”

In their experience, they randomly assigned Fox News viewers to watch CNN for a month, comparing their political views after switching to the network with Fox viewers who didn't make the switch. The result? Getting conservative viewers to watch mainstream news has caused many participants to move away from far-right views on a number of issues such as immigration and race relations. And they found changes in how participants rated Mr. Trump.

“It was amazing to see that the study participants learned new things about the world from watching CNN,” Kalla said. “These are people who don’t trust CNN; they think it's propaganda and fiction.

“The fact that they find that these people, in particular, are learning something new about the world suggests that they are more open to persuasion and listening to the other side than we might assume.”

Participants did not just adopt moderate views on issues such as immigration; they also began to question their trust in Fox News itself. At the end of the study, respondents were less likely to agree with the statement: “If Donald Trump did something wrong, Fox News would discuss it.” »

Experiments like this have little real-world application, but they reinforce the idea that conservative viewers see the current political landscape through a different lens.

This extends to how Republicans view criminal charges facing their party's nominee. Republicans who consume non-conservative mainstream media were more likely to say that the charges against Mr. Trump were legitimate, that Mr. Trump knowingly made false statements about the election being stolen, and that he should be found guilty in the election interference trial in Washington. according to a December survey.

And in the recent poll, the gap between the two types of Republicans persists. Republicans who watch mainstream media are three times more likely to say Mr. Trump acted criminally than those who consume conservative media. And the share of Republicans in major media outlets saying this has increased over the past two years, reaching a high of 43 percent in December. This figure has now fallen to 34 percent.

“I think withholding private documents for the purpose of maybe releasing them is to some extent a betrayal,” said Briana Dunbar, 20, a political science student at Ohio State who says she plans to support M. .Trump in the fall. “If he is found guilty, I will not vote for him.”

“But I'm not a judge and it's not up to me,” added Dunbar, who said she gets most of her information from ABC News or her political science classes. “Once the decision is made, I will trust what they say. If he's not guilty, I'd probably vote for him. But November is still far away. »

Even though a notable portion of these mainstream Republican media outlets say they have no plans to support Mr. Trump, many may ultimately decide to vote for him in November. In 2016, after the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Mr. Trump bragged about groping women, many in the party considered abandoning him. Even most of these voters managed to return to their party's candidate.

Among conservative Republican media outlets, the share of those who said Mr. Trump had not committed crimes remained largely unchanged.

Nateasha Friesen, 56, of Fresno, California, is an avid consumer of news from places like Newsmax and The Epoch Times, outlets that she says are “not the outlets that tell me what to think and rather allow me to make an informed decision.” for myself.”

“I triangulate the information I receive, focusing on determining its sources and the transparency it provides,” she said.

Ms. Friesen plans to support Mr. Trump in the fall. “My opinions on this matter are very firm: he committed no crime. I am convinced that these trials are politically motivated.

About 10% of independents say they watch conservative news, and almost all say they lean Republican.

A much smaller group of Republicans surveyed — about 13 percent — primarily got their news from social media. This group supported Mr. Trump at as high a rate as consumers of conservative media, but they were more likely to agree with mainstream media Republicans that Mr. Trump had committed crimes. Yet this group viewed the accusations as primarily politically motivated.

But these social media Republicans were much younger than other Republicans. They were also less likely to say they planned to vote in November.


The New York Times/Siena College poll of 980 registered voters nationwide was conducted on cell and landline phones, using live interviewers, February 25-28, 2024. The margin of error sampling for the presidential ballot choice question is plus or minus 3.5. percentage points among registered voters. Crosstabs and methodology are available here.

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