The Campaign Spot

Liberals Experiencing Post-Election Letdown and Losing Interest

Wow. Thanks to everyone who came out for last night’s happy hour — our offices were packed, we ran out of beer, we ran through a bunch of bottles of wine, I’m told Jonah handled his duties with mixed drinks in a dramatic and exciting manner that evoked Tom Cruise in Cocktail, and everyone seemed to have a good time. My ego was already having a hard time fitting through the door frame, and now after all the kind words from readers, I’m going to be utterly insufferable.

From the final Morning Jolt of the week . . .

Who Saw This Coming? A Lot of Liberals Seem Depressed & Uninterested Right Now

My thought was that every politics-focused news-media entity is going to see its audience shrink after an election year. But ratings and audience size at three of the four cable news networks are actually up in May, compared to a year earlier.

Guess which one is limping along?

HLN’s wall-to-wall coverage of the Jodi Arias trial has had substantial ratings legs. Surging around the time of the May 8 verdict, the network notched an extremely rare monthly victory: It topped MSNBC in total day and primetime. And with CNN posting its second consecutive month as a distant primetime runner-up to Fox News Channel, MSNBC is in a very precarious fourth place.

Averaging 539,000 viewers in primetime and 175,000 viewers in the adults 25-54 demographic, MSNBC suffered double-digit drops from last May — down a respective 20 and 19 percent. Losses were less substantial in total day, down 10 percent to an average 346,000 viewers and down 7 percent to 115,000 adults 25-54, while all other nets pulled growth in multiple categories.

The soft start for All In With Chris Hayes has not helped. Hayes, down 32 percent in total viewers from The Ed Show last May, has offered a poor lead-in for MSNBC’s primetime flagship, The Rachel Maddow Show, at 9 p.m. The show delivered its lowest-rated month since it debuted in September 2008 (717,000 total viewers) and its second lowest with adults 25-54 (210,000). Maddow was topped by typical time slot victor Sean Hannity and CNN’s Piers Morgan.

Read the complete rankings, May 2013 versus May 2012, via Nielsen:

Total Day

FNC: 1,246,000 total viewers, up 24 percent (236,000 in 25-54, down 5 percent)

CNN: 465,000 total viewers, up 61 percent (161,000 in 25-54, up 92 percent)

MSNBC: 346,000 total viewers, down 10 percent (115,000 in 25-54, down 7 percent)

HLN: 494,000 total viewers, up 111 percent (175,000 in 25-54, up 90 percent)



FNC: 1,973,000 total viewers, up 17 percent (308,000 in 25-54, down 6 percent)

CNN: 660,000 total viewers, up 70 percent (225,000 in 25-54, up 97 percent)

MSNBC: 539,000 total viewers, down 20 percent (175,000 in 25-54, down 19 percent)

HLN: 624,000 total viewers, up 91 percent (209,000 in 25-54, up 97 percent)

Over at Breitbart, John Nolte is gloating:

As we saw during the Boston Marathon Bombing, when people want actual news, they do not turn to MSNBC. What good is liberal-talk-radio-with-pictures hosted by unlikable hipsters who all share the same pair of glasses, when you want news, facts, and information? It is no good whatsoever. This is why, for the second time this year, the bottom has fallen out of MSNBC’s ratings.

Last week, between May 13-17, MSNBC averaged 350,000 overall viewers and only 94,000 in the all-important 25-54 demo. One day last week, in that demo, MSNBC averaged only 83,000 viewers, a low not seen since July of 2006.

But the phenomenon may extend well beyond MSNBC viewing habits. There’s some anecdotal evidence that a significant chunk of the Left’s rank-and-file started tuning out shortly after Obama’s second term began, and they’re not re-engaging.

Let me point to Digby, a liberal blogger:

The online left has seen a steep decline in traffic since the election as well, which indicates to me that our audience in general is simply not interested in following politics at the moment. . . . 

. . . My impression is that liberals are either bored or disillusioned right now for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that a liberal majority has been effectively obstructed and the president seems to be ineffectual. (I realize that political scientists tell us that the presidency isn’t very powerful, but most people don’t believe that since we’ve extolled the office as the most powerful on earth for decades.)

We’ve been through a number of elections, crises, other ups and downs over the past decade but I’ve not seen anything like the drop in interest over the past few months. If it was just me I’d attribute it to my little project having run its course but it’s happening across the liberal media spectrum. I don’t [k]now what the answer is, but it isn’t that there isn’t a permanent audience. There was until very recently. It’s that the liberal audience is tuning out and one can only assume it’s because they don’t like what they see in our politics.

It makes me a little bit more concerned for 2014/2016 than I otherwise would be.

A lot of possible reasons for this — scandal disillusionment, the crash after the high of Hope-ium, a public starting to feel like they’ve heard of all of Obama’s rhetorical tropes before, overall exhaustion and boredom with politics as a whole — but this is not a development that the Washington conventional wisdom has even noticed, much less even begin to analyze or explain.

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