So how about the reader survey? We're still slicing and dicing the numbers in different ways. But I wanted to share some of the highlights.
We had a lot of respondents (20,708) and we left the survey open for twenty-four hours on a week day. So I think we got a pretty good sample of our audience and good coverage of different readers who visit at different times of the day.
First, the number that, I have to confess, left me a touch chagrined: 81% of TPM readers are men.
(By the way, on all these numbers, I'm rounding to the closest whole number -- the exact figure was 80.82%).
Now, not only are you mainly male. But you're also, well ... pretty rich.
Here are the income figures ...
$200,000 or more = 7%
$150,000 to $199,999 = 7%
$100,000 to $149,999 = 20%
$75,000 to $99,999 = 18%
$50,000 to $74,999 = 19%
$25,000 to $49,999 = 16%
Under $25,000 = 7%
Rather not respond = 6%
Pretty well educated too. 85% of our readers have a college degree. And 46% have an advanced degree.
The age spread seemed pretty unsurprising to me ...
75 and older = 1%
65-74 = 4%
55-64 = 14%
45-54 = 25%
35-44 = 26%
25-34 = 24%
21-24 = 4%
18-21 = 1%
0-18 = 0.17%
Now, the one question that people wrote in and complained about was the one that asked people to characterize themselves politically. And the complaint in almost every case was that they weren't given enough flavors on the leftward side of the spectrum to choose a designation that fit them. The options were Liberal, Moderate, New Democrat, Independant, Libertarian, Conservative, and Neo-Conservative.
Lots of people wrote in saying they wanted to be able to choose "progressive", though in a sign of how complicated this political designation issue is, it was clear that some of those people meant 'progressive' as a designation to the left of 'liberal' and others meant it as a designation to the right of 'liberal'.
Others simply wanted to be able to call themselves Democrats or Republicans, rather than define themselves in terms of ideology. Not a few complained that the menu of options left no choice for those who defined themselves to the left of liberal. And at least one reader wrote in to tell me that since I clearly meant to demean those to the left of liberal he was removing TPM from his 'favorites' list. (Yeah, it's a tough business running a center-left website!)
In any case, there was no great thought, to be candid, that went into choosing these designations. And the point of the exercise was not reader self-expression. What we were trying to find out was the answer to a question people often ask about this and other related sites -- Is the audience just made up of people who, on balance, agree with my views or is it more diverse? Is it just preaching to the choir? We started with Liberal/Moderate/Conservative and then added from there in a pretty arbitrary fashion.
In any case, here were the answers, from the choices given above, 60% chose "Liberal" while another 35% chose "Moderate" (12%), "New Democrat" (12%) or "Independent" (11%).
Responses to the other choices were negligible: "Libertarian" 2%, "Conservative" 1%, "Neo-Conservative" .28%.
Remember, in all but the last instance I'm rounding off.
Those numbers basically make sense to me, since they range across the center-left spectrum. Cross-referencing these numbers with the income numbers, I guess we could say that TPM has a high percentages of readers who aren't "paying their fair share" and know it -- a little Clintonian humor there.
In any case, the responses confirmed to me that the site's readers are measurably, though not markedly, more to the left than I am.
I suspect that there was a sample bias on the rightward side of the spectrum since self-identified Conservatives probably have an antagonistic feeling towards the site. And thus, I think, they were probably less inclined to give us time to help the site by completing the survey. But that's just a surmise. You have the hard data in front of you and can make your own judgment.
92% of readers live in the United States. And of those, the responses were fairly evenly spread out over the country. I haven't looked too closely at these numbers yet -- and we did it by zip code so we'll eventually be able to look down very specifically into urban/suburban/rural divisions, etc. -- but a brief look shows some clear red state/blue state division, but not a stark one. So for instance, 17% of our American readers are from California, 10% from New York, 6% from Texas.
83% of our readers have "donated money to a political campaign, party committee or non-profit organization." 81% have bought a book online in the last six months; 70% have made travel arrangements online over that same time period, etc.
Finally, the five top professional categories were ...
Computer / IT = 16%
Education (includes students) = 15%
Other = 11%
Lawyer = 8%
Media / Publishing / Entertainment = 7%
2.5%, 509 respondents, classified themselves as "journalists".
We'll eventually put all this together in a more systematic fashion. But, as I said, those are some of the highlights.