February 06, 2012

Arbitron Inc. announced the results of a study looking at the effectiveness of all radio formats in reaching specific voting groups. With the 2012 primaries well underway, political hopefuls are looking for ways to reach voters. Radio, with its various formats, is an extremely effective medium to reach voters with specific political affiliations. The Federal Election Commission estimates that total political advertising spending will reach $8 billion dollars in 2012, with 50% of that amount spent on radio and television.

Arbitron conducted the study by tapping in to its sister company, Scarborough Research's, Scarborough USA+ database, which features a statistical representation of the entire country, including the areas that are not in Scarborough markets. The study, conducted from Fall 2010 to Fall 2011 with 208,274 respondents Adults aged 18 and older, looked at party identification, voter registration status and how frequently the respondent votes.

The study found that 38% of adults 18 and older identified themselves as democrats (28% identified themselves as democrats and 10% identified themselves as independents who lean democrat). Thirty five percent identified themselves as republicans (25% identified themselves as republicans and 10% identified themselves as independents who lean republican). Ten percent of adults identified themselves as independent without leaning either republican or democrat and 18% did not identify themselves as democrat, republican or independent.

"The media landscape has grown increasingly complex since the 2008 election year and political candidates are looking for the most effective ways to reach voters," said Ron Rodrigues, Marketing Manager for Arbitron. "Radio's near universal reach of potential voters and its ability to target voting segments that mirror the national landscape through its various music and talk formats make it a highly effective platform for political campaigns. In addition to talk formatted stations, music formatted stations offer candidates the ability to reach a wider spectrum of voters and enhance 'Register to Vote' and 'Get Out the Vote' initiatives."

Some of the key findings of the study include:

The format with the most listeners nationwide per week according to Scarborough, Adult Contemporary attracts slightly more democrats than republicans, 39% democrat and 34% republican respectively.

Surprisingly, with the exception of Alternative Rock, all Rock-oriented radio formats attract more republicans than democrats. Classic Rock, Active Rock and Album Oriented Rock all attract more republican listeners.

All Urban and Spanish-language radio formats attract a decidedly higher number of democrats versus republicans. Gospel and Urban AC have the highest democratic listener base, with 64% and 61%, respectively.

Religious and News/Talk/Information formats have the highest percentage of republican listeners among popular radio formats. The Contemporary Christian format has the highest percentage of republican listeners at 46%; News/Talk/Information has a listener base of 44% republicans.

However, public radio tends to skew more democratic. Public radio listeners who identify themselves as democrats make up the audience while 32% of the audience identify with republican ideologies.

Country music, the format carried on the most stations nationally, skews more republican than democrat, with 41% of its listeners identifying themselves as republicans. Only 32% of country music radio listeners identify themselves as democrats.

The music formats with listeners who characterized themselves as frequent voters includes Album Adult Alternative, Classic Rock and Urban AC, all with more than 60% of listeners classified as frequent voters.

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