Do Republicans really not like the Beatles? Facebook releases voters' tastes.

Democratic supporters favor 'The Color Purple' and 'The Hobbit,' while Republican backers are big fans of 'Heaven is for Real' and 'Atlas Shrugged,' according to Facebook. Bipartisan support exists for Taylor Swift and 'The Big Bang Theory.'

We’re told that men are from Mars and women are from Venus, but what planets do Democratic and Republican supporters in the midterm elections come from?

Culturally speaking, they sometimes hail from completely different worlds, Facebook revealed in a set of charts on Tuesday. Democrats, for instance, groove to the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, and Alicia Keys. Republicans vastly prefer the country scene: Miranda Lambert and her husband, Blake Shelton, as well as the ever popular “king of country,” George Strait.

Facebook pulled its data from users who “like” the campaign pages of any Democrat or Republican candidate running for governor, the US Senate, or the House. The data compare users’ other likes – such as TV shows and books – and highlight where Republican and Democrat supporters most differ, and where they agree.

For instance, tastes differ most widely when it comes to music and books, less so with TV shows and destinations or landmarks. Favorite books among Democratic supporters are “The Great Gatsby,” “The Color Purple,” and “The Hobbit,” while Republican backers are big fans of “Heaven is for Real” and – no surprise here – “Atlas Shrugged.”

In terms of destinations and landmarks, Democrats want to zoom to the top of the Empire State Building, while Republicans like bonding with the Founding Fathers, or at least one of them, at the home of George Washington in Mt. Vernon, Va. On the other hand, everyone really likes the idea of summering on the Jersey Shore or visiting the Kennedy Space Center Complex.

TV viewing reveals some predictable differences, with Republican supporters lining up behind “Duck Dynasty” and Democrats tuning in to comedy “news” shows “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” But again, there’s a lot of commonality in TV land: “The Big Bang Theory,” “Two and a Half Men,” and “The Office” are apparently purple shows that appeal to both reds and blues.

And even in the “polarized” music scene, Democrats and Republicans get all bipartisan over singer-songwriter Taylor Swift.

The comparisons are cultural curiosity, yes, but they can also translate into real ad revenue for Facebook and strategic advantage for political candidates, says Edward Erikson, of the strategic communications firm MacWilliams Sanders Erikson.

“From the campaign perspective, this type of data is very helpful in building psychographic profiles of likely supporters,” says Mr. Erikson in an e-mail. 

One of the features of Facebook advertising, he explains, is that it allows people to target ads based on pages that users like and to narrowly cast messages to those unique audiences. 

For example, a Democratic candidate running for the US House in Iowa could target people 18 and older in their district who listen to the Beatles. The only people who would see the ads would be Beatles fans.

“The more information that is available about people – their consumption habits and ideological predisposition – the more effectively campaigns can communicate, connect, and build support. And ultimately win campaigns,” Erikson writes.

Last week, Facebook released an interactive political map of the United States, comparing candidates in the congressional and governor races by the number of “likes” they have on their campaign pages. The company claims that in the past three months, 22 million Facebook users in the US had 150 million interactions about the coming midterm elections.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.