Given the ongoing anti-Trump onslaught in late-night television, it should come as no surprise that Republicans and Democrats have very different perspectives on how political content is used in those “comedy” shows, whether they’re on the mainstream networks or cable TV.
According to a recent survey, 54 percent of Democrats said they watch late-night talk shows, compared to 26 percent of Republicans. Also, Democrats were far more likely than those in the GOP to say they like it when late-night hosts discuss politics or personal political views.
In the poll, which was conducted last week by The Hollywood Reporter and Morning Consult, half of the Democrats questioned said they would be more likely to watch a late-night talk show if a politician made a guest appearance.
Like many results of the survey, that’s a serious contrast from Republicans, 56 percent of whom stated that they would be less likely to watch a program with a political guest.
According to an article by Morning Consult's Sarah Shevenock, one thing the parties agreed on was the perceived political leanings of late-night talk show hosts. Surprisingly, only 57 percent of Republicans and 53 percent of Democrats said they thought late-night talk show hosts tend to lean more liberal.
Among those hosts, Stephen Colbert of CBS’s The Late Show and Comedy Central's Daily Show host Trevor Noah were seen as “two of the most divisive late-night hosts,” while Jimmy Fallon of NBC’s Tonight Show was found to have the highest favorability at 58 percent.
Fallon -- who has arguably done the most of the hosts to avoid politics -- was also the most popular late-night host among viewers in the GOP, 48 percent of whom consider him positively. He was the second-most popular among Democrats, coming in one percentage point behind Jimmy Kimmel of his eponymous program on ABC, who had a favorability rating of 73 percent. And that's no surprising given his far-left tilt.
Nevertheless, The Tonight Show had the highest share of talk-show favorability, with 55 percent of the public, 69 percent from Democrats and 45 percent of Republicans having a positive view.
Despite Fallon’s bipartisan popularity, recent Nielsen data show that Colbert’s Late Show has been drawing in slightly more viewers than The Tonight Show during the 2018-19 season. The CBS program has averaged 3.8 million viewers per episode compared to Fallon’s 2.5 million.
In addition, 64 percent of Democrats had a favorable view of Colbert, and an equal share had a favorable opinion of The Late Show, which regularly features political guests and candidates, including New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who announced on the program she was forming an exploratory committee to run for president.
Also included in the poll was NBC’s Saturday Night Live, which was viewed as “too political” by just 39 percent of those surveyed, including 60 percent of Republicans. In addition, 68 percent of those surveyed said the program is making political statements in their sketches.
Of course, the pollsters apparently had Alec Baldwin’s infamous impersonations of Trump in mind when they asked people which imitators they like the most. Surprisingly, Will Ferrell’s version of George W. Bush came in first, followed closely behind by Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, Dana Carvey as George H. W. Bush and in last place -- though only a few points behind the rest -- was Baldwin.