Pew Study: ‘Sizable Shares’ of Democrats and Republicans Turned to Broadcast News During 2020 Election Cycle

By A.J. Katz 

Pew Research Center published a rather lengthy study this past Monday titled How Americans Navigated the News in 2020: A Tumultuous Year in Review, and there are some interesting TV news-focused takeaways from it.

One takeaway from this Pew study is that while cable news traditionally attracts partisan audiences, “Sizable shares in both parties (43% of Democrats and 26% of Republicans) turned to network TV news in at least two of the three surveys conducted during the election.”

The greatest share of Republicans who consistently stuck with any of the major TV news outlets during the 2020 election season were turning to Fox News (36%), followed by the broadcast networks (26%) and talk radio (17%). Roughly 9% or fewer of Republicans consistently turned to any of the other five individual outlets asked about: CNN, NPR, MSNBC, The New York Times and The Washington Post.


After the 43% share of Democrats who consistently turned to the broadcast networks as their primary source for 2020 election news coverage, a 39% share of Democrats consistently turned to CNN, followed by 24% to NPR, 22% to MSNBC, 21% the New York Times and 14% to The Washington Post.

On the other hand, 11% of Democrats used Fox News in at least two of the three surveys, and an even smaller portion (1%) turned to talk radio consistently.

Interestingly, more Democrats consistently turned to Fox News (11%) than Republicans turned to CNN (9%) or MSNBC (3%) as their primary source for 2020 election coverage. Granted, these aren’t exactly massive percentages, but still interesting.

Outside of those 9% of Republicans who stayed with CNN for political news, only 4% or fewer of Republicans consistently turned to each of these other top Democratic news sources (NPR, MSNBC, NYT, WaPo), as shown below: