Here’s Why Jon Stewart Quitting ‘The Daily Show’ is So Painful for Democrats

His audience has been an important segment of reliably left-leaning voters.

Jon Stewart’s announcement that he’ll retire as host of The Daily Show after 16 years will leave a void in the culture—and in Democratic politics, too. It’s long been passé to point out that young people get their news from The Daily Show, rather than from network news broadcasts. But as political professionals know, Stewart’s audience, and that of his former Comedy Central partner, Stephen Colbert, have been an important segment of reliably left-leaning voters.

 
National Media, Inc.

The chart above is a demographic breakdown of cable show audiences given to me by Will Feltus, senior vice president for research at National Media, Inc., a Republican ad-buying firm. When placing political ads on television, buyers want to make sure they’re reaching people in the right party and that those people are likely to vote on Election Day. You don’t want to screw this up. A few years ago, when Donald Trump was on his birther tear, the ratings for Celebrity Apprentice tanked because his toxic right-wing politics drove away his heavily liberal audience.

Although this chart is a couple years out of date (Piers Morgan!), you can see that Stewart’s audience is both a) extremely liberal, and b) very likely to turn out to vote. Even more so than the audience of the dearly departed Stephen Colbert. And this data undoubtedly understates the true influence of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report because both shows occupied such a prominent space in the Gen X/Gen Y psyche, even if Morgan had even more liberal, civic-minded viewers.

All in all, this is rough news for Democrats. Maybe they can figure out a way to convince Fox News’ Sean Hannity to retire.

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