New Bipartisan Poll Finds Grateful Dead Popular Across Party Lines, All Age Groups
With the Grateful Dead’s final “Fare Thee Well” tour celebrating the band’s 50th anniversary now heading from Santa Clara, CA to Chicago’s Soldier Field for three final shows next weekend, a new bipartisan national poll conducted by the Mellman Group (D) and Public Opinion Strategies (R) finds the iconic band well liked across political party lines, by all age groups, and viewed most favorably by 100k+ annual earners and those with college degrees.
The new June 2015 poll of 1009 adults nationwide (landline and cell phone) has a +/- 3.1% margin of error. Out of personal curiosity, the poll was funded by DC-based communications consultant and writer, Gordon Hensley — a long-time fan of the Grateful Dead, and a board member of the non-partisan voter registration group, Headcount.
Several noteworthy data points found in the polling presentation and crosstabs:
- 79% of Americans have heard of the Grateful Dead — and 39% know enough about them to have an impression; among this 39% (the “hard name ID”), almost three times as many Americans rate the band favorably (29%) as opposed to unfavorably (10%).
- The Grateful Dead have the highest hard name ID among Republicans (46%), followed by Democrats (37%) and independents (35%).
- On a Fav/Unfav basis, Republicans give the band a 32/15 (2.13 ratio), Democrats 31/6 (5.17 ratio) and Independents 26/9 (2.89 ratio).
- Among partisan sub-groups, the greatest intensity of favorable feeling for the Grateful Dead is found among independent-leaning Republicans.
- The Grateful Dead has the highest hard name ID with 100k+ annual wage earners (55%) and college grads (55%). Respectively, these two sub-groups give them a strong 45/10 and 44/11 fav/unfav rating.
- While best known by Baby-Boomers, the Grateful Dead is most popular ratio-wise with the youngest Americans: those age 35-44 give the band a 37/8 fav/unfav (4.63 ratio) and those age 18-34 give a 21/5 fav/unfav (4.20 ratio).
Personal notes and observations:
The Grateful Dead’s 50th anniversary is the obvious time to objectively evaluate their decades-long impact on U.S. public opinion with accurate bipartisan data, and to assess their standing by political party, age, socio-economic status, and other interesting metrics.
The Grateful Dead and its eclectic fan base is an ongoing source of academic study, and the poll’s findings help shed light on just how wide a net the band cast over multiple generations of Americans with highly diverse viewpoints and life experiences.
Over the years, the Grateful Dead and its sprawling fan base were more often than not characterized pejoratively in national and local reporting, especially as the scene exploded in the late 80’s. In actuality, many of the band’s most passionate long-time fans are the most creative, successful, and productive among us all.
In addition to being a unique bipartisan inquiry into the American institution known as the Grateful Dead, this new data serves as an instructive counterpoint to various stereotypes surrounding the band and its millions of fans across the nation.
I’m submitting the poll findings to the UC Santa Cruz Grateful Dead Archive, the band’s official archival repository, and using the data as source material for a 2016 narrative non-fiction book project, “Freedom: Across America with the Republican Party and the Grateful Dead.”