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Who’s the most politically divisive figure on the Forbes highest-paid celebrities list?
Of the celebrities who have made the most money this year, who’s the most politically divisive?
As part of SurveyMonkey Measures: Celebrity—a comprehensive list analyzing the qualities that attribute to celebrity success—we re-ranked the top earners on Forbes’ highest paid celebrities list. 2,500 people across the U.S. shared their impressions and feelings of the top 20 celebrities on the list.
Then, because the team was curious about how politics plays into celebrity perceptions, we used SurveyMonkey’s Analyze tool to compare the answers from Democrats and Republicans.
The most divisive celebrity, it turns out, probably won’t shock you, but we got some interesting data in the process.
Before we dive in, It’s important to remember that the people who responded are everyday Americans, which means their answers aren’t true or false—they’re reflections of their own sentiments and impressions of these celebrities.
Since we were careful to balance the responses based on the respondents’ political, geographical, and socio-economic backgrounds, we believe their responses are an effective mirror of Americans everywhere.
Democrats and Republicans have pretty similar views
While there are some small differences between the opinions of Democrats and Republicans when it comes to the highest-paid celebrities, the first thing you notice when you look at the data is that both groups view the celebrities on mostly level ground.
Certain figures get some extra attention here and there, but their opinions are largely consistent. There are few notable, and humorous, examples of where they agree and differ.
They’re united in their ire for Justin Bieber
The Beebs wasn’t a popular fellow in either camp. When we asked respondents specifically about the musicians who made the list, he was roundly reviled by both Republicans and Democrats.
Both Republicans and Democrats called him the No. 1 most overpaid and the No. 1 least respected musician.
53% of Democrats said he was overpaid and 57% said he was the musician they least respected.
39% of Republicans said he was the most overpaid and 54% said he was the musician they least respected.
It’s good to know there’s still bipartisan support for some issues these days.
Republicans are way more likely to say Taylor Swift is the most attractive
Of the Republicans we surveyed, 37% said pop icon Taylor Swift was the most attractive celebrity on the list. Fellow pop singer Rihanna was a distant second, with just 17%.
Just 20% of Democrats shared Republicans’ view on Taylor Swift, while 17% prefered Rihanna.
Why the difference? We’re not touching that one.
…and they don’t respect Madonna or Howard Stern
Madonna and Howard Stern were least likely to earn the respect of the Republicans we surveyed. 19% of Republicans said they least respect Madonna and 16% said they least respect Stern. Of course, neither celebrity is well known for representing (or even agreeing with) the ideals that are championed by most Republicans.
Howard Stern wasn’t particularly well-liked by Democrats either. He took the No. 2 spot for least respected among Democrats with 9% of the vote.
But the guy who tops the least respected list for Democrats was Rush Limbaugh, with 53% Democrats saying he was the least worthy of respect.
Rush Limbaugh is so hated by Democrats, he almost ruins the data
Nobody on the list divides Democrats and Republicans like Rush Limbaugh. It’s not even close, and the reason why may be obvious. The radio talk show host made the list (and $79 million) by championing conservative ideals in an already-contentious election year. And it shows in the data.
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It doesn’t appear that Limbaugh is divisive because Republicans particularly love him, but more because Democrats seem to really hate him. You can find Limbaugh on the negative extreme of virtually every question we asked Democrats, while Republicans are more positive (and sometimes neutral) about him.
Again, we’re talking about a guy whose actual job is to be politically divisive on the air, so it’s probably no wonder that he gets a strong reaction from the people who disagree with him.
But the dramatic effect he alone has on the data may not be because he’s particularly polarizing (although many might make the case that he is), but more because he’s the ONLY primarily political figure on this list, and that makes a difference in the data.
When it come to political groups, celebrities with extreme personalities and behaviors nudge favorability data here and there, but the guy whose job it is to publicly oppose everything Democrats stand for changes the data so dramatically that it makes all other differences look small.
Remember, we’re looking at what these celebrities represent to Americans of different political persuasions. The actual political persuasions of the celebrities themselves don’t usually matter—except when they do.
See how your favorite celebrity fares in SurveyMonkey Measures: Celebrity, a comprehensive list analyzing the qualities—both positive and negative—that are attributed to celebrity success.