. . . Monday November 22, 2004

We All Like to Watch, Even in Red States

So much of politics is about marketing. In many ways, political operatives have proven themselves to be the best marketers alive.

So we need to take those exit polls about values with a grain (if not a pillar) of salt. People often answer questions and vote in a way that is wholly in line with the marketing pitch in which they’ve been soaked.

Perhaps a more accurate indicator of the reds, blues and purples that color our political discourse is the stuff we watch on television. As it turns out, our viewing patterns are remarkably similar across political and geographic lines.

Doesn’t it somehow seem fitting that we could all find common ground while hunkered around the television set?

The truth is that we’re pretty damn into CSI, Raymond, Survivor and yes, even Desperate Housewives, regardless of where we live. Love of mediocrity (especially when accompanied by a half-shirt and some body oil) unites us. Maybe the real divide in this country is between the masses who accept crap television and the Couch-Potato elite.

Look, when it comes to television and politics (and just about everything else), we tend to buy that which is most effectively sold. That’s why there is such a focus on the marketing and strategy of politics. It turns out it really matters.

If you can come up with the political equivalent of the Monday Night Football towel drop, you too can be president.

The most successfult marketers can simultaneously sell you two seemingly opposed products at once. See Fox for the best example. They sell smut on the network and “morality” on the news channel. Both are well packaged. Both sell.

But wait. It’s not just TV watching patterns across red and blue lines that might surprise you. As many have pointed out, Massachusetts has long been sold by the right as a bastion of left wing, anti-family immorality. Well, it turns out that they have the third lowest divorce rate in the country. The highest divorce rates are not in Hollywood, folks. They are in the red states of Nevada, Arkansas and Wyoming.

And here’s another one that might (altough it shouldn’t) surprise you. The three states with the highest readership of Playboy Magazine are Iowa, Wyoming, and North Dakota. With that many centerfolds making there way into bathrooms across red America, is it any wonder that they felt a need to at least vote their morals?

Maybe that’s part of the allure of masturbation. It usually leaves one hand free for finger pointing. No matter where we live, both activities turn us on.

(Reminder: You can follow stories related the MNF towel drop, TiVo’s Spam, Howard’s listeners, and my online poker addiction over at Davenetics. A blog toggle is at the top of both blogs.)

Concentration is important!