Never have I felt more confidence in the conjunction of cable news ratings with political attitudes than I do at this moment. I have just seen last week's cable news ratings, and for the first time in my memory, FoxNews had more primetime viewers than any other cable network, including the perennial leaders USA, TNT and TBS. Ordinarily the FoxNews audience is too old to make the top ten with the 25-54 demographic group, but this week it finished fourth with more than 850,000 viewers in that category. MSNBC trailed CNN in all the demographic measurements, which indicates to me that the more liberal the audience was, the less likely it was to watch primetime news last week -- the reason, the Republican victory in the Massachusetts Senate race.
FoxNews coverage has certainly helped Republicans to win elections, and Republican victories encourage hundreds of thousands of GOP stalwarts to watch their men win on FoxNews. The large turnout for the funeral of the much detested Hollywood studio boss, Harry Cohn, was explained by the phrase "Give the people what they want to see, and they'll come out to see it." Fox was giving its audience what it wanted to see while MSNBC's audience turned their sets off and cried themselves to sleep.
Fox averaged 3,213,000 primetime viewers, CNN and MSNBC between them had only 1,741,000. Fox beat them almost two-to-one. I don't believe that there are almost twice as many conservatives in the United States as there are liberals, so I'd suggest that, going back to the Harry Cohn funeral, many Democrats decided not to attend their own defeat. I have written before that people watch what they enjoy, and no Democrat could've enjoyed last Tuesday's results.
Returning to the beginning, I think both parties and most media organizations could save themselves a lot of money if they stopped polling and just paid more attention to the weekly Nielsen cable news ratings. Cable ratings in the weeks leading up to the election gave every indication of the Republican victory, and once again they proved to be right on the nose.