Tucker Carlson Fans Are More Wealthy and Conservative Than Fox News Fans
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The Tucker Carlson and Fox News relationship is no more. The right-wing host’s ties to the cable news network that helped turn him into a conservative firebrand were severed last week when Fox abruptly fired him — reportedly for a variety of reasons, including alleged misogynistic behavior. The firing came shortly after Fox agreed to pay $787.5 million to Dominion Voting Systems to settle a defamation lawsuit, which unearthed damaging private communications from Carlson that may have contributed to his ouster.
The questions now: Which side will come out of the split better? Who will miss the other more?
Carlson has built a following of devoted conservative fans, leaving many to speculate about his post-Fox plans and who, if anyone, will replace him at the network. Carlson posted a cryptic Twitter video after his firing, but he didn’t directly address when or where fans would be able to watch him next.
A new Morning Consult survey compared the fandoms of Carlson, former President Donald Trump and Fox News to understand how Carlson’s followers differ from those of Trump and the network as a whole. The survey found that Carlson’s fan base is whiter, wealthier, more conservative and more male than the average Fox News fan.
The survey also asked Americans about their interest in watching Carlson on platforms other than Fox. About 3 in 10 U.S. adults (29%) and 75% of his fans expressed interest in watching Carlson on his own hypothetical media network. Those shares were both higher than those of Americans (26%) and Carlson fans (65%) who said they would be interested in watching a show on Fox News hosted by someone who is not Carlson but shares his opinions.
- All three fandoms are majority male and white, though Carlson’s group is 7 percentage points more male and 3 points more white than Fox News fans.
- Carlson’s fans are 9 points less likely than Fox fans to have a household income less than $50,000, 6 points more likely to have a household income between $50,000 and $100,000 and 2 points more likely to have a household income $100,000 or more.
- Among generations, Gen Z adults are by far the least likely to identify as a Carlson, Trump or Fox News fan. Some popular liberal Gen Z TikTok users, like Kat Abu, have poked fun and celebrated Carlson’s firing on the social media app.
- For all three fandoms, millennials were the largest generational cohort, followed by baby boomers. There was not much difference in age between Carlson’s fans and Fox News fans.
- The survey revealed that the Fox News brand is significantly more popular than that of Carlson. Roughly 30% of Americans identified as fans of Carlson, compared with 43% who said they’re Fox News fans. Meanwhile, 79% of Carlson fans are also Fox fans, compared with 54% of Fox fans who say they’re also Carlson fans.
Tucker Carlson Fans Would Prefer to Watch Him on His Own Network Over Fox News Competitors
Americans are largely “meh” on Carlson’s next move
- About a third of Americans (29%) said they’re interested in a show hosted by Carlson on his own hypothetical media network. Less than half of Republicans (45%) said the same, though that share outweighed the share of Republicans who said they’re interested in watching Carlson on every other platform, including social media. Three in 4 (75%) Carlson fans, meanwhile, said they’re interested in watching him on his own media network.
- Carlson fans are excited to follow him no matter what platform he goes to next. A majority would even be interested in watching him on MSNBC and CNN.
Tucker Carlson vs. Fox News
Fox’s ratings have been down in the days since the network fired Carlson. Nielsen reported that “Fox News Tonight,” the show hosted by Brian Kilmeade that has temporarily replaced Carlson’s old time slot, garnered 1.33 million viewers last Wednesday, a 56% decline from the ratings “Tucker Carlson Tonight” drew the previous Wednesday. (That placed Fox News behind its dreaded rival MSNBC for the evening.) Some fans have already threatened to boycott the network due to Carlson’s firing.
But it may not all be bad for Fox. With Carlson and his uniquely toxic brand out, the advertisers that abandoned his program over its many controversies might be persuaded to return. So while viewership might suffer in the short-term, the move could benefit the network in the long run. Either way, both brands are popular enough with conservative Americans to survive the ugly breakup.
The April 20-23, 2023, survey was conducted among a representative sample of 2,202 U.S. adults, with an unweighted margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points.
Saleah Blancaflor is a data reporter at Morning Consult covering the business of entertainment. @saleyley