Blog Post: You Are What You Read: Reading Habits of Voters

You Are What You Read: Reading Habits of Voters

Posted by Patrick on October 08, 2012 175283



During an election season, we hear nonstop analysis of how different the two political parties are. Conservatives and liberals are at odds when it comes to taxes, healthcare, defense...and the list goes on. But what about their reading habits? We polled* Goodreads members to find out which 2012 presidential candidate will get their vote, and then we looked at the books these voters had shelved. Opinions of certain books were split along party lines, but there was also a lot of agreement. Perhaps a love of reading should be a plank in both Obama and Romney's platforms.

Take a look at the results in this infographic, and we leave it to you to draw your own conclusions. Are Obama voters more drawn to Jonathan Franzen as a champion of the middle class? Are David McCullough's books on the Founding Fathers favorites of Tea Party supporters? What books are you reading this election season?

* One important caveat: Not everyone in our poll is eligible to vote in the 2012 presidential election, either due to age or geography.


Comments (showing 1-50 of 55) (55 new)


message 1: by Josephine (new)

Josephine (aurora lector) Oh cool! I like these analyses that you do occasionally. Thanks for sharing. :)


message 2: by Synobal (new)

Synobal Not really that helpful of an info graphic. was hoping for something a bit more informative.


message 3: by Jessica (new)

Jessica McCann Interesting!


message 4: by Angel (new)

Angel I concur. This is not really very insightful, mostly fluff. And not to brag, but I have read more than both party members (according to the graphic) combined in 2012 so far. Oh, and I could not care less about Franzen though I am not likely to support Romney (not that I think Obama is perfect).


message 5: by Samantha (new)

Samantha This was an awesome idea! Interesting results.


message 6: by Nesrin (new)

Nesrin L. Interesting... but a bit kind of meh on the info.


message 7: by Danielle (new)

Danielle Hmm I know none of those books. I'm curious, how was the info collected?


message 8: by Meredith (new)

Meredith Interesting that the differences are not that large. For all the sniping back and forth we are all really the same


message 9: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Wasn't much surprised by this except for the McCullough. He's just a darn good author. I read his stuff and I am absolutely NOT a Romney fan.


message 10: by Donna (new)

Donna Meredith wrote: "Interesting that the differences are not that large. For all the sniping back and forth we are all really the same"

HA! Glad someone said it! Thanks :)


message 11: by Rachel (new)

Rachel I've read about 26 books this year but I have read none of those books and I'm supporting and voting for "None of the Above"


message 12: by M (new)

M I agree with all of the above. It's interesting but nothing that really pops out.


message 13: by Caitlin (new)

Caitlin Would be more interesting perhaps if it showed preferences by genre rather than by specific books (none of which I have read). Oh well - I like to imagine Romney fans with their noses stuck in pulpy romance novels, while Obama supporters real "real" literature. :-)


message 14: by Crystal (new)

Crystal Alvord-Day Rachel wrote: "I've read about 26 books this year but I have read none of those books and I'm supporting and voting for "None of the Above""

I'm with you Rachel! :0)


message 15: by Tamara (new)

Tamara I've read 175 books so far this year, none on this list, though my boring husband did read atlas shrugged. Can't wait until November when all this is over. Can we have a write in vote? How about Nora Roberts for president?


message 16: by Craig (new)

Craig a.k.a Meatstack Sure its fluffy, but I don't mind. There's enough flame on every other sure in the Web.


message 17: by Debbie (new)

Debbie Cathy wrote: "Wasn't much surprised by this except for the McCullough. He's just a darn good author. I read his stuff and I am absolutely NOT a Romney fan." I agree! McCullough is a darn good author and I have read just about everything he's written. I am NOT a Romney fan either.


message 18: by Clark (new)

Clark I am heartened to know that "The Big Short" had just as many readers on both sides of the aisle. Now if everyone in the country would read it, we might have a decent starting point to discuss foreign and domestic trade.

Thanks. Fun little poll.


message 19: by Clark (new)

Clark Debbie wrote: "Cathy wrote: "Wasn't much surprised by this except for the McCullough. He's just a darn good author. I read his stuff and I am absolutely NOT a Romney fan." I agree! McCullough is a darn good aut..."

Well, there's some irony there. McCullough has done a ton of work for PBS and was central voice for many of Ken Burns documentaries. And Romney, as noted at the debate, would give PBS a pink slip given the chance.


message 20: by Ellen (new)

Ellen What about supporters of Gary Johnson,( the former 2 term Governor of New Mexico who is *also* on the ballot?) If you included us, you would probably discover that we have have a broad range of interests that meet right in the middle of the far right and the far left.


message 21: by Connie (new)

Connie This was fun!


Stevie ***[HIATUS]*** this was interesting but I would have liked to have seen more stats.


message 23: by Felonious (new)

Felonious Cool, I too would love to see this type of analyzes done more often. World series teams (when known), Superbowl teams (when known), North vs. South, Male/female or Rural/urban ... Possibilities are endless.


message 24: by Jim (new)

Jim Smith Jim wrote: "Rachel wrote: "I've read about 26 books this year but I have read none of those books and I'm supporting and voting for "None of the Above""
I guess that's your loss and ultimately everyone else to..."



message 25: by David (new)

David Gallagher Danielle wrote: "Hmm I know none of those books. I'm curious, how was the info collected?"

It says it at the beginning - there was a poll not long ago that was asking who we'd vote for in the upcoming elections, and when the poll closed the people behind it looked into, and analyzed, the books that the people who took the poll had read.


message 26: by Erwin (new)

Erwin Interesting indeed. A bit more in-depth would be nice but I have to say the differences don't seem all that big. If the US had a proportional representation system with multiple parties I wonder what the results would be.

On the one hand I wouldn't have expected the differences to be this minor. On the other hand, seeing that there are only 2 parties in this system (in practice; theoretically there could be more but winner-takes-all doesn't encourage it) many different opinions gather under one of the 2 flags, making the total average. The system also favors conservatism. As you see in the UK, the left wing, compared to the rest of the world, tends to be right of the center.

So upon reflection, the result isn't surprising at all.


message 27: by Avidreader (new)

Avidreader Why are Obama supporters called "fans" and Romney supporters called "supporters"? It seems a little bit nasty to use the term fan. I would call myself a supporter of Obama NOT a fan.


message 28: by Beth (new)

Beth Your caveat is a big one. It says that your poll is meaningless.


message 29: by Joseph (new)

Joseph Felonious wrote: "Cool, I too would love to see this type of analyzes done more often. World series teams (when known), Superbowl teams (when known), North vs. South, Male/female or Rural/urban ... Possibilities are..."

Yes, this was an entertaining comparison I would like to see more of. I certainly wasn't expecting anything of scientific value.


message 30: by Annalisa (last edited Oct 09, 2012 07:03AM) (new)

Annalisa Avidreader wrote: "Why are Obama supporters called "fans" and Romney supporters called "supporters"? It seems a little bit nasty to use the term fan. I would call myself a supporter of Obama NOT a fan."

Both terms are used on both sides. Obama supporters twice, fans twice. Romney supporters four times, fans once.


message 31: by Mandy (new)

Mandy I haven't heard of most titles cited, except for 'Nickel & Dimed' & 'Atlas Shrugged'....I liked both (books- prefer Rand's 'Fountainhead', though. The Atlas movie sucked. Not a book that translates well imto film, IMHO.) As for the candidates, I'm throwing in the towel. Not voting for president this year, neither candidate appeals to me. Got buyer's remorse for voting Obama last time. I'll write in Ron Paul or Jello Biafra or Carl from ATHF.


message 32: by Natalien (new)

Natalien I love those stats features - keep them coming!


message 33: by Beth (new)

Beth funny I dont remember getting the poll, and I dont seem to fit most of your demographics and I've voted every year since 1980.


message 34: by Susie (new)

Susie The thing to keep in mind about a poll like this is that it's self-selecting from the get--because we all frequent Goodreads due to our love of reading and books ;) so we already have that in common. I imagine the differences would probably vary a bit more if the poll were taken to the streets.


message 35: by Jacie (new)

Jacie Pretty neat, and interesting analysis no matter which way you swing it.


message 36: by Grandmapam (new)

Grandmapam Well, I am a Romney fan and would be unlikely to read any of the above. :-/ I never have fit the norm.


message 37: by Steph (new)

Steph I am a Romney fan since day 1.And the only book I have read from this thing is Heaven is Real... :D


message 38: by Steph (new)

Steph Avidreader wrote: "Why are Obama supporters called "fans" and Romney supporters called "supporters"? It seems a little bit nasty to use the term fan. I would call myself a supporter of Obama NOT a fan."

Good point! :)


message 39: by Beth (new)

Beth The poll means nothing because noncitizens and other nonvoters were included in it.


message 40: by Sean (new)

Sean Dewar I think this poll would have been more interesting if it looked at genres voters loved. Also, the info in this isn't helped by the fact that not everyone on goodreads voted, or these voters not being old enough


message 41: by Wanda (new)

Wanda Yeah...so this poll is rather meaningless.People don't fit into nice little categories where you can say they are most likely to read this or that. I don't fall into the norm, and I wouldn't read a single one of those books.


message 42: by Bryan (new)

Bryan The funny thing is that I read both John Adams and Nickel and Dimed. I enjoyed John Adams more but Nickel and Dimed is a fantastic book as well.

Also, I’m voting for Obama.


message 43: by Julie (new)

Julie Ehlers I actually thought this was rather insightful. Particularly interesting to note that Romney supporters are much more likely to read a supposedly nonfiction book about some little kid who allegedly went to heaven and reported back.

Regardless, some of you are taking this WAY too seriously. It's not a real, official poll, so it doesn't have to be scientific or say anything relevant. It's just for fun. And for those of you saying you didn't "get" the poll, it wasn't sent to anyone--it was on the Goodreads main page for all to see and answer if they chose. So lighten up!


Lightbringer_merriman I think all this proves is that political factions aren't too different from each other. The differences weren't that stark, even the star ratings on a polarizing Rand novel aren't extremely different.


message 45: by Ed (new)

Ed Wyrd I've never even heard of any of those books (except Atlas Shrugged, which I've never had any interest in).

Does that mean I can't vote Republican OR Democrat?


message 46: by Michael (new)

Michael An infographic? That's so Web 1.0.

Always make a book title or an author a link.

You missed an opportunity to drive book readership (and by extension Goodreads' bottom line).


message 47: by Tammy (new)

Tammy Thomasson-ehrhart Fascinating! Thanks for posting it!


Erin (Paperback Stash) I think it's fascinating and would love for Goodreads to do more varieties of polls and comparisons like this


message 49: by Mydie (new)

Mydie tarea I think all this proves is that political factions aren't too different from each other.


message 50: by Mydie (new)

Mydie tarea I think Romney supporters giving a better review of Atlas Shrugged says a lot about our country.


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