Predicting Election Results by Viewer Preference

In every election of the past decade I have predicted the results based on Nielsen's cable news viewing numbers. So far, I have always gotten it right. And, if that happens again next Tuesday, the Democrats are in for a disaster.

One uncertainty about the reliability of this poll is caused by the great increase in numbers of people who now rely on the internet as their basic news provider. I believe, without any evidence, that independents are more likely to use the internet than party loyalists, who tend to watch either the conservative network or CNN/MSNBC, but maybe I only believe this because the viewer poll looks so bad for the Democrats.

It's also dangerous to make predictions on just one week's results, but this year the results are consistent over the past month, so I've come up with the following numbers reflecting the week of October 18th to the 24th. During that period:

  • Sixty percent of primetime cable news viewers watched Fox News
  • Forty percent watched CNN and MSNBC combined (I do not include Headline News numbers, since who knows the political preferences of those who watch Nancy Grace).
  • Fifty-five percent of total day viewers spent their time watching FoxNews.
  • Forty-five percent watched CNN and MSNBC, again combined.
  • The total day demographics show that FoxNews had its greatest advantage in viewers 55 and up.
  • Its edge among 25-54 year olds was only 6-5.
  • Among 18-49s, the liberal networks edged FoxNews 20 to 19, but for the first time in all my surveys FoxNews wins the youngest demographic, 18-34s, beating the liberal networks by a 14-11 margin. Maybe that's because younger voters are the mostly likely to be using the internet.

Using the total day-total audience numbers as the most indicative, Republicans lead Democrats 55% to 45%. Most polls have the GOP ahead by 52% to 48%, or at worst, 53% to 47%. It is impossible to make accurate predictions of House and Senate results based on viewing, since we don't know where the viewers live, nevertheless, I'll take a shot at it. Still, it's a stab in the dark. If the 55/45 numbers are right, Democrats will likely lose at least 60 House seats and the Senate may wind up 50/50, with Joe Biden called in to make the deciding votes.