Poll shows partisan divides on news preferences, distrust in national media
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Local news sources garner trust from both sides of the aisle.

Republicans and Democrats differ sharply on where to go for political news, according to a new Florida Atlantic University, Mainstreet PolCom Lab poll.

The poll showed 44% of Republicans preferred cable news, while just 32% of Democrats turn to cable news programs. Independents prefer cable news even less, at 21%.

Democrats and independents instead prefer network television news and newspapers, with 27% of Democrats and 18% of independents turning to places like ABC or CBS for news content, compared to just 10% of Republicans. 

Regardless of political affiliation or leaning, voters in general place more trust in local media than in national outlets, according to the survey. Just 10% of voters said they had unwavering trust in the mainstream media, while 26% said they somewhat trusted it. 

There are still some divides, however. About 56% of Democrats expressed faith in mainstream media, while only 32% of independents and 20% of Republicans said the same. And men harbor far more distrust for the national media than women, at 45% to 20%. 

Voters overwhelmingly trust local media, though, with 59% of Florida voters reporting trust in their local media outlets. Women have slightly more trust (64%) than men (55%).

Those trends vary based on communities, with Miami boasting 68% voter confidence, compared to just 48% in the Orlando media market. 

And across all markets, Democrats still are more likely to trust the local media than Republicans, with 83% trust compared to just 48% among GOP voters. 

“It is great to see that local media is still seen as influential and important to voters,” FAU Associate Professor in the School of Communication and Multimedia Studies Robert Gutsche said. “The challenge is that local news increasingly is seeing its ranks and resources cut, which will further influence how and where voters get their information.”

The poll found that while many voters turn to social media for political information, traditional media such as cable and network news continues to serve as a primary source for information. Only 10% of survey respondents indicated they rely solely on social media for political information. Further, only 29% said they use social media for some information. 

“Even in the social media age, cable news continues to be an important source of news for Florida voters, especially Republicans. The television continues to drive a large portion of political consumption,” said FAU professor of political science Kevin Wagner. 

And what’s perhaps most promising for political engagement ahead of the 2024 Presidential Election is how much voters are discussing politics. The poll found that 43% of respondents engage in political conversations at least occasionally, while 29% said they have extensive involvement in political discussions. 

“Politics play an important role in our everyday lives,” said FAU professor of communication Carol Bishop Mills. “Although there are social taboos surrounding political discussions, it is evident that people are talking, and they should be.”

Still, those conversations aren’t necessarily expanding voters’ viewpoints. The poll found that, among those who have political conversations, talks with individuals who hold opposing views happened just 10% of the time. 

“Listening and communicating with others who hold different beliefs are valuable skills,” Mills said. “Having difficult conversations and expanding our perspectives help us avoid merely confirming our own worldview.”

The poll was conducted from June 27-July 1 among 933 Florida voters. It has a margin of error of +/- 3.2 percentage points.

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • PeterH

    July 17, 2023 at 12:08 pm

    Excellent article. Sad that there are not more financial resources to support local investigative reporting.

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  • tom palmer

    July 17, 2023 at 2:13 pm

    As a retired local journalist, I find it sad that so many citizens’ attitudes have been affected by the political polarization. Some of this reflects national coverage, which at times appears more agenda-driven the local coverage. The main problem with local coverage is that there is so little of it and a lot of politicians who deserve more scrutiny are flying under the radar. Then, when they are held accountable they claim media bias and their political allies and beneficiaries believe it and spread the misinformation and here we are .

Comments are closed.


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