Among many factors impacting how Americans will vote in the upcoming Presidential Election, political TV commentators have the potential to influence opinions and shape perceptions of key issues. New CivicScience data show that political commentators are popular among U.S. adults 18+. Over 6-in-10 say they follow at least one political TV commentator, and this figure will likely grow as the Presidential Election continues to pick up.

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Which political TV commentators do Americans follow the most?

Among a range of political TV commentators, Americans are most likely to watch/follow Anderson Cooper (30%), followed closely by Jon Stewart (29%) – who recently returned to “The Daily Show” – and Tucker Carlson (28%). Conversely, they are over half as likely to follow Ann Coulter and Van Jones. 

A different story holds among political lines. Democrats are most likely to tune into Anderson Cooper and Jon Stewart (45%), more than double the percentage of Republicans who watch/follow them. Republicans are most likely to tune into Tucker Carlson, even after leaving Fox, at a whopping 50%. Independents don’t follow political commentators as much, but they’re most likely to tune into Anderson Cooper (30%), Jon Stewart (28%), Tucker Carlson (25%), and Bill Maher (24%).

How much do Americans trust and value the opinions of political commentators?

To gauge the influence that political commentators might have on election outcomes, additional data analyzed how much viewers trust and value the commentators they follow. CivicScience data show that those who follow political commentators are more likely to trust them than not. Forty-eight percent say they value their opinions, and 46% trust them. 

Trust and value are much higher among people who follow specific commentators compared to individuals who just follow political commentators in general. Data show that close to 70% of Americans trust and value the opinions of Sean Hannity, Van Jones, and George Stephanopoulos. Whereas Anderson Cooper and Bill Maher rank toward the bottom – conversely to their overall ranking above.

Tucker Carlson has the biggest gap in trust and valuable opinions. Sixty-five percent value his opinions, but only 59% trust him (6-point gap). Ann Coulter also has a considerable gap between the percentage who trust and value her opinions (5-point gap).

Answer our Polls: Do you generally agree or disagree with the opinions of conservative TV host Tucker Carlson?

Overall, political commentators have the potential to shape opinions as the election approaches, as many trust and value their opinions. In particular, we could see Sean Hannity, Van Jones, and George Stephanopoulos have the biggest impact as these commentators rank the highest in trust. 

Want to see more insights like these? The CivicScience 2024 Election Mindset Tracker analyzes how the political climate and election news are impacting the economy, purchasing decisions, well-being, and much more. Download a free preview here, or schedule a meeting to learn more about CivicScience’s capabilities.