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Nielsen Paradox: DC-Area Folk Watched Inauguration on TV; Liberal West Coast Didn’t

Here’s something counterintuitive: the closer a person lives to Washington, D.C., the more likely it is that he or she watched the inauguration on

Daniel James
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jan 21, 2009

Here’s something counterintuitive: the closer a person lives to Washington, D.C., the more likely it is that he or she watched the inauguration on television.

Nielsen released its numbers for the top 56 media markets in the country today. These metropolitan areas had the highest inauguration viewership yesterday:

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And these had the lowest viewership:

Image has not been found. URL: /wp-content/uploads/2009/01/lowest-markets.jpg

So people who could most easily come see the inauguration in person — those from D.C., Maryland, Virginia and North Carolina — watched from their sofas, while people who live more than 1,000 miles away either made the trek to the capital or didn’t bother to tune in.

Even stranger, the three metropolitan areas at the bottom of this list are arguably the three most liberal in the country: Seattle, Portland and San Francisco.

I suppose it’s possible that people from the D.C. area are simply more politically engaged — *much *more engaged — than their counterparts from farther afield, but this still strikes me as deeply strange.

Anyone have a better explanation? I await your comments …

Daniel James | Daniel James is an author, keynote speaker, and entrepreneur who is a professional coach and gerontologist. Daniel holds a bachelor's degree from Georgia Tech, a master's degree from UCLA, a diploma in gerontology from the University of Boston, as well as a Professional Coaching Certification.


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