In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, most people have missed the shift of Trump voters away from Fox News and into the hands of Newsmax and One America News Network, two news outlets that are only 6 years old but in that short time have managed to greatly improve their standing in conservative circles.
While the average voter may be mostly unaware of these outlets, the Suffolk University/USA TODAY national poll of exclusively 2020 Trump voters offers key data points in what could be a seismic shift in the landscape of trusted news sources for conservatives in the country.
First, I want to make sure we keep the relative size of the shift in perspective, as it’s not a 100% change from Fox to its competitors. Fox News is still, by far, the most trusted news network/media source among previously identified Trump voters from various state and national polls taken in 2020. Among Trump voters, 34% trusted Fox News the most, followed by 17% for Newsmax, 9% for One America News Network, with every other network at 3% or less.
The above numbers, however, also paint a drastically different picture than the numbers four years ago. In late October 2016, Suffolk University and USA TODAY conducted a national poll of likely presidential election voters, and among those who said they would support Trump over Clinton, a whopping 58% trusted Fox News the most. At the time of our October 2016 poll, OANN and Newsmax were barely 2 years old, so they were not offered as options. However, we do not believe that in 2016 they would have been trusted the most by a statistically significant portion of respondents.
Today’s data shows Fox News is losing the most loyal Trump voters. On the issue of whether Trump voters believe Joe Biden was legitimately elected, 73% said Biden was not. Among Trumpers trusting OANN, the number was 90% and among Newsmax Trumpers it was 92% saying Biden was “illegitimately elected.”
In a similar trend, 58% of Trump voters said that the storming of the Capitol on Jan. 6 was an antifa-inspired attack that only involved a few Trump supporters. Among Fox News viewers it was 59%, but notably less than the 73% who watch OANN and Newsmax. The recent Senate impeachment trial had a doubling down effect for 64% of Newsmax viewers who said the trial made them more supportive of Trump. Among OANN, 49% were more supportive, followed by 41% of Fox viewers.
Trump’s loyalty carries into the 2024 presidential election as well, with 62% of Trumpers trusting Fox News, saying that they would like to see Trump run for president in four years. But that high number was less than the 70% and 73% respectively among those who trust Newsmax and OANN. Those who trust either OANN (66%) and Newsmax (64%) the most say history will record Trump as a great president. For Fox News, the number is high (45%) but not quite showing the love of these up-and-coming alternatives.
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Then we come to the true test of party loyalty – or should I say disloyalty – when comparing Trump with the Republican Party. We put Trump supporters on the spot and asked to whom they were more loyal. In the survey, 54% said they are more loyal to Trump while 34% chose the Republican Party. Among Fox News Trumpers, the numbers were a slightly more modest 51%-37% split in favor of Trump. But among Newsmax viewers 72% chose Trump over the GOP and among OANN, the Trump loyalty tipped to 80%-15%.
The poll also asks what the official relationship should be between the Republican Party and Trump. Overall, half said the GOP should be more loyal to Trump while 19% said less loyal and just 14% said the Republican Party is headed in the right direction. Those numbers were pretty much mirrored by Trumpers trusting Fox News, but 70% of Newsmax viewers said the GOP needs to be more loyal to Trump and it was an even higher 80% among OANN.
And if the “unthinkable” happens for the Republican Party, and Donald Trump forms a third party, the poll tells us that Trump trusters of Newsmax (70%) and OANN (65%) will easily choose the Trump Party over the Republican Party. Among those trusting Fox News, 41% would defect to the Trump Party and 28% would pick the Republican Party with a sizeable 31% undecided and torn. This poses a very, very bad problem for the Republican Party in 2022 and 2024.
Move over Fox News.
David Paleologos is director of the Suffolk University Political Research Center.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Paleologos on the Poll: Newsmax and OANN are out-Foxing Fox