The three Democratic presidential candidates who did the best in early primary contests in Iowa and New Hampshire also happen to be the three who’ve taken their message to Fox News viewers. Is that a coincidence?
According to a recent Morning Consult survey, it might not be. In Dec. 2019, Morning Consult reported Fox News, with its right-leaning opinion coverage, is the most-watched cable news channel in 299 of America’s 436 districts by a margin of at least 2%. On average, 24% of Democrats throughout the country watch Fox News at least once a week, according to the survey. A look at Iowa and New Hampshire on the provided map showed they’re right on track with that number.
27.2% of independents told Morning Consult they watch Fox News once a week or more. The amount of weekly-or-more independent viewers is 22.7% for CNN and 15.2% for MSNBC.
Independents watch all three cable news channels at a lower rate than their Republican and Democrat counterparts, but “are often a decisive voting bloc,” the survey explains. According to the survey’s data, Fox News is the most-watched among independents in 306 districts by a two-point margin. Overall, according to Nielsen research, Fox News is outpacing CNN and MSNBC in total viewers, period. Last week, as Iowa caucus results were announce and analyzed and Buttigieg did a Sunday show appearance on the network, Fox News had another record week in a string of record weeks. The network earned its highest-rated week in total viewers since January of 2017, with 2.3 million viewers and 413,000 in the 25-54 demo.
In New Hampshire, where Sanders delivered a victory Tuesday night, voters registered as “undeclared” –including those who re-register that way — are able to vote in either primary. In Iowa, where results from last Monday are still unclear, Buttigieg and Sanders fared well. Caucus-goers can only participate with the party they’re registered to, but can change their registration at their precinct caucus on the day of the event.
Representatives for all three campaigns didn’t respond to multiple requests for comment from TheWrap, but they’ve made their cases for Fox News appearances. Buttigieg’s Fox News town hall was in January, and his most recent appearance on the network was this weekend, when he spoke to Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” Sanders’ was last April while Klobuchar’s was a month later, in May.
In January, Buttigieg’s senior communications advisor Lis Smith tweeted, “Just a reminder. @PeteButtigieg went from ‘no-name contender’ to top-tier candidate, in part, b/c of these town halls. He is the *only* candidate doing a Fox town hall before Iowa, so make sure to tune in tonight at 7 PM ET.”
Conversely, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, who had a surprisingly bad showing in Iowa and New Hampshire given her previous momentum, publicly refused to do a Fox News town hall last spring. Similarly, the DNC released a statement last March outlining why it would not host any Democratic debates with Fox News. Democratic candidate Andrew Yang has even called on the DNC to reverse that stance, but so far, the committee has not.
“The DNC is committed to expanding the electorate and reaching all voters — that is why we make it a priority to talk to a wide range of media, including Fox, where the DNC gives interviews regularly. The decision on not having a Fox debate still stands,” a DNC spokesperson told TheWrap Wednesday. Notably, DNC communications director Xochitl Hinojosa was on Fox News Wednesday morning.
One thing is for sure: Even if not all of the Democratic candidates are appearing on Fox News, at least one of the network’s viewers is paying very close attention to the ones who do.
“So weird to watch Crazy Bernie on @FoxNews. Not surprisingly, @BretBaier and the ‘audience’ was so smiley and nice. Very strange, and now we have @donnabrazile?” Trump said in a tweet last April, when Sanders appeared in his own town hall on Fox News.