The Conversation

Journalists Surveyed: Democrats Outnumber Republicans 4 to 1

A survey by the Indiana University School of Journalism found that self-described Democrats outnumber Republicans by a ratio of four to one, 28 percent to 7 percent.

The survey (pdf), which has been conducted every 10-11 years since 1971, found that journalists have abandoned both parties. Compared to 2002, the last time it was taken, the percentage of Democrats dropped from 35 to 28. The percentage of Republicans dropped even more sharply over the same time period from 18 down to just seven percent today.

For the first time since 1971, more than half of all journalists report they are independents. That means there are more independents (50%) than Democrats and Republicans combined (35%). The survey did not ask any follow up questions about the views of independents or, more to the point, which party they voted for in recent elections.

These findings roughly match those of a 2008 Pew Research survey of journalists. Pew found 53% of national journalists described themselves as moderates. Meanwhile 32% described themselves as liberal and just 8 percent described themselves as conservative (the same 4 to 1 ratio found in the Indiana survey). Pew's report noted at the time that "among the population as a whole, 36% call themselves conservatives." In other words, journalists are not remotely representative of the population as a whole.

The Media Research Center has kept a record of other surveys of journalists going back to 1981. All of the surveys show a divide favoring Democrats of at least 4:1 and sometimes higher.

And of course the real question is whether the self-described moderates and independents are really all that moderate. How many of them voted for Democrats at the local or national level in recent elections? How many of them have ever voted for a Republican? We know there is a lopsided partisan divide among journalists which seems to hover around a ration of 4:1. Until we have a survey which considers voting patterns of the independents, we can't be certain the divide isn't even worse than it appears.


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