UTICA, New York and LOS ANGELES, California - After two presidential election
cycles during which the American electorate was split right down the middle like
two bitter, warring factions, polling over time by Zogby International has shown
that the middle of the political spectrum has made a comeback.
And with the resurgence of the political center comes a pitched battle
between the presidential campaigns of Barack Obama and John McCain to win them
over, with both investing tens of millions of dollars. So who are these people
who are the targets of such lavish political spending?
These "Purples" - some independent, some moderate - are distinctly different
than the "Reds" or "Blues" who are tuned into what is going on in the political
world and who mostly have made up their minds about the race. Purples require a
unique approach, as shown in a new, extensive national interactive survey by
Zogby and the USC Annenberg School's Norman Lear Center.
Here is a look at how those much-coveted Purple voters can be reached by
political campaigns and what they want to hear (For profiles of Reds, Blues and
Purples, look at the end of this release):
Connecting With the Purple People:
- All politics is still local. Purples trust and rely on their local
newspapers for news. Fifty-eight percent prefer their hometown paper, five times
more than any national or major city daily. So in addition to making a local
stop, push local surrogates to deliver your message.
- Stick with 30-second spots. TV was tops when Purples were asked what they
like to do in their free time.
- NBC is still king. Purples most trust old pro Tom Brokaw, followed by
Nightly News anchor Brian Williams.
- Don't preach to the choir if you are McCain. Few Purples tune in to Fox
- Top TV shows to buy ad time on: Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, 60
Minutes, CSI, Sunday Night Football, House, Two and a Half Men, Law & Order
and Criminal Minds.
- Avoid reality shows. More than a 25% never watch them, and American Idol
is the only one to reach double figures (11%.)
- Letterman and Leno give you the best bang for the buck on late night, but
25% of Purples are already asleep by then.
- The news/talk radio format is a good buy, as 41% of Purples listen in.
- Rock and roll will never die. Classic rock and oldies stations will reach
30% of Purples. Pop stations are up there at 28%.
- Over half of Purples either don't listen to national political talk radio or
don't have a favorite talking head. Of those who do, 18% listen to Paul Harvey
and 13% to Rush Limbaugh.
- All sports, all the time. You can reach more than 10% of Purples with just
about any sports on TV. Of course football is number one (54%), followed by
baseball and basketball.
- Google them because 69% of Purples say that is their favorite site. Yahoo is
at 51% and MSN at 39%.
- Get viral. YouTube is a favorite for 27% of Purples.
- They're surfing for news - 72% say that is the information they look for
online. Purples are also more likely to go online to find out about TV shows,
movies, games, music, fashion, shopping, books and sports. But don't waste your
time with blogs - Purples don't really care about them.
- Celebrities won't help, as 87% of Purples say that their endorsements are a
turn off or have no impact.
- The Oprah exception. Twenty-nine percent say Ms.Winfrey is well-informed
about the candidate she endorsed (Obama), and George Clooney clocked in at a
- Be happy because they are. Eighty-three percent of Purples say they are very
or somewhat happy about their personal life.
What to Say to Purples:
- Forget about wedge issues. Purples are worried about the economy. Forty-nine
percent cite it as most important, compared to 3% who chose morality and values.
- The Iraq War isn't working. Seventy percent of Purples say it has not been
worth the loss of American lives and 53% don't agree that it can be won.
- Go green. Four of five Purples say more resources are needed to protect the
environment rather than saying government has gone too far.
- Promise that you will throw the bums out of Washington. Seventy percent of
Purples blame leaders of the political parties for the worsened state of
politics. Eighty percent say this country's on the wrong track.
- Corporate America is not their friend. A whopping 90% say corporations don't
generally act in society's best interests. Also, 57% say government regulation
of business is important.
- Praise the working mother. Eighty-seven percent of Purples said men and
women should share household duties equally.
- Privatize education at your peril. Eighty percent of Purples say that
investing in public schools is better than supporting private education.
- Don't demonize immigrants. Two-thirds of Purples say they are here for work,
not a handout.
- Walk a tightrope on trade. Purples are closely split on whether workers need
- Be tech savvy. Three quarters of Purples say new technology and the social
and economic changes it brings are a good thing.
- Civil liberties and equality take a back seat to security and freedom. We
found that 57% of Purples say security is more important than liberties, and 74%
say freedom is to be more valued than equality.
- However, don't believe that Purples want us to shoot first and ask questions
later. When asked to choose between using force or improving anti-American
sentiment to combat terror, 85% of Purples choose the latter.
- Compassion is popular. It is our duty to help the less fortunate, say 81% of
- Be very careful talking about religion's role. Purples are evenly split as
to whether religion should have a greater role, or be left out of public life.
- Don't talk about guns. Purples are again evenly split on whether it is
appropriate to regulate gun ownership.
- Cutting taxes is always a good thing for everybody. So say 66% of Purples.
- Are they listening? Over half of Purples say they're paying more attention
to politics than four years ago.
The survey, which examined the political beliefs and entertainment
preferences of 3,167 likely voters, provides us with a fascinating view of this
slice of the American electorate. Using statistical clustering analysis, Zogby
and the Lear Center created a political typology based on how respondents
evaluated 42 statements about political values. The typology revealed three
significant clusters of respondents: "Reds" made up 41% of the national sample,
and "Blues" comprised 34%. The "Purples," a full 24% of those surveyed, did not
align with the political beliefs and values of Reds, who could be considered
"conservative," or Blues, who could be labeled "liberal." The same respondents
were asked about their preferred leisure-time activities and their favorite
radio and TV shows, Web sites, movies, games and sports. This Zogby/Lear Center
survey is the second in a series.
Profiling Reds, Blues & Purples
Here are brief summaries of the three political typology groups, including
their demographics and their entertainment, leisure and lifestyle
Reds are the largest ideological group in the U.S. They tend to live close to
other family members and they're much more satisfied with their spiritual,
family and personal lifethan the rest of the nation. They love going to sports
events, watching football on TV and playing Madden. They also enjoy golf
and auto racing more than other people. They use the Web to find news and sports
coverage, but they're less likely to go to social networking sites. Reds tend to
get their news from cable TV and radio, and they much prefer Leno to any other
late-night programming. Compared to the rest of the country, they are less open
to foreign entertainment and any entertainment that reflects values other than
their own. Monopoly is their favorite game. They blame the news media for the
worsened state of politics in this country, but only a minority believes that
celebrity involvement in politics has a negative effect. They are more likely
than other Americans to think that Chuck Norris, Ted Nugent, Tom Selleck and Pat
Boone are well-informed celebrities on the campaign trail. Like other voters,
most Reds say that they learn about politics from fictional movies and TV, and a
majority says they have taken action based on issues depicted in scripted TV and
movies. Their favorite fictional TV shows are House and CSI; their
favorite summer movies were Indiana Jones and The Dark Knight. In
their spare time, they like to read and spend time with family and friends. They
drink more soda than cocktails, and they prefer seafood and salads to burgers
Reds are the oldest group and the wealthiest, although a majority never
graduated from college. They are the most likely to be married and to live in
rural areas - most live in the South and the Center/Great Lakes region. Almost
one in three say they are "very conservative," and most describe themselves as
"born again." Seventy-two percent identify as Republican, 23% as Independent and
5% as Democrat. Reds are the least racially diverse group, and it's the only
group where men outnumber women.
Blues are the second largest ideological group in the country. Almost all of
them think the U.S. is on the wrong track, and they are far more likely than the
rest of the country to be unsatisfied with their personal, family, business and
social life. They are more tolerant of the media than other Americans, but they
are more likely to get their news from comedy shows than from any of the network
TV newscasts. More than any other group, they get their news online, and they
use Wikipedia. In fact, their favorite leisure-time activity is surfing the Web,
where they like reading blogs and socializing (they prefer Facebook to MySpace).
They tend to get their TV news from NBC and MSNBC, and they are fans of Keith
Olbermann. Blues love playing Trivial Pursuit, and their favorite video
games are Wii Sports, Zelda, Guitar Hero and Super Mario
Kart. They like The Dark Knight and Iron Man, and their
favorite TV show is 60 Minutes. Many Blues dislike reality programming -
more than Reds and Purples. For late-night, they prefer The Daily Show.
Blues enjoy going to music concerts and to the theater, and they often enjoy
entertainment from other countries. Like the rest of the country, most Blues
don't think that celebrity endorsements have an effect on them. Few Blues
believe that celebrities are well-informed about the candidates they endorse,
except for Oprah. Blues are more likely to enjoy sushi and vegetarian meals;
they are also the biggest drinkers of wine and beer.
Blues are the youngest group and the most educated. They are more likely to
live in urban areas and they are the most racially and religiously diverse.
Seventy-nine percent identify as Democrats (even more than Reds identify as
Republican), but they are as likely to describe themselves as "moderate" as they
would call themselves either "liberal" or "progressive." Eighteen percent
identify as Independent, and 3% as Republican. A majority of Blues is female,
and compared to other groups, Blues are more likely to be single or in a civil
union. Most live in the Center/Great Lakes region, followed by the South, the
West and the East.
Purples are the smallest ideological group, and in many ways they fall
between the Red and Blue camps. Like Blues, they think the country is on the
wrong track, and they are less satisfied with their personal, business and
social life than Reds. Most Purples say they are paying more attention to
politics now than four years ago, and a large majority says they learn about
political issues from fictional TV shows and film. Like Blues, most get their
news from the Web, but they are more likely than any other group to use the Web
to find information about celebrity gossip, TV shows, movies, games, music,
fashion, shopping, books, relationships and sports. Purples are more likely than
Reds or Blues to say that playing games and listening to music are the most
enjoyable things to do online. Unlike Blues, Purples prefer MySpace to Facebook
(it's a tie for Reds). Tom Brokaw is popular among Purples, and they believe
he's the most influential news personality. Purples say watching TV is their
favorite leisure-time activity, and their top three shows are Law &
Order: SVU, 60 Minutes and CSI. Purples like reality
programming more than any other group, and American Idol is their
favorite. They prefer Letterman and Leno over all the other late-night programs.
Like Reds, they say they are not big fans of foreign entertainment products, but
they give high marks to the Wii, Super Mario Kart and Dance Dance
Revolution. Scrabble is their favorite game. Purples are the biggest
cocktail drinkers, and they like a good surf n' turf.
Most Purples haven't graduated from college, and half identify as "born
again." They are the most likely to be divorced, widowed or separated, and a
large majority of Purples is female. Most live in a large city or in the
suburbs, and a higher proportion live in the East, compared to Reds and Blues.
Most Purples are middle-aged and middle-class, but they are far more likely than
other groups to make less than $35K. A majority voted for Kerry in 2004.
Forty-five percent of purples identify themselves as Democrats; 24% as
Republicans; 31% as Independents.
Data was collected from August 19-21, 2008. A sampling of Zogby
International's online panel, which is representative of the adult population of
the US, was invited to participate. Slight weights were added for region, party,
age, race, religion and gender to more accurately reflect the population. The
respondents were asked to evaluate 42 political statements which Zogby and the
Lear Center developed in 2007 as a tool to more accurately describe a person's
political profile. A statistical analysis of the data revealed three very
different ideological groups, which were labeled "Red," "Blue," and "Purple."
The same respondents were asked about their preferred leisure-time activities
and their favorite radio and TV shows, Web sites, movies, games and sports. This
survey is the second in a series.
Based at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Southern
California, the Norman Lear Center is a multidisciplinary research and
public policy center exploring implications of the convergence of entertainment,
commerce, and society. On campus, the Lear Center builds bridges between eleven
schools whose faculty study aspects of entertainment, media and culture. Beyond
campus, it bridges the gap between the entertainment industry and academia, and
between them and the public. For more information, please visit www.learcenter.org.
About Zogby International
Zogby International is a public opinion, research, and business solutions
firm with experience working in more than 70 countries around the globe. Founded
and led by John Zogby since 1984, Zogby International ranks as one of the
industry's leaders thanks to its reputation for superior accuracy and
reliability. Zogby specializes in telephone, Internet, and face-to-face survey
research and analysis for political, corporate, non-profit, and governmental
clients. The firm is headquartered in Utica, New York, with offices in
Washington D.C., and Miami.