EXCLUSIVE SURVEY: What Game of Thrones Watchers Think Ahead of Final Episode
May 16, 2019
Game of Thrones fans divided on who should sit on the Iron Throne, how the final season is going, and whether Trump’s Southern Border Wall or the Wall of the North are more effective
Firehouse Strategies and 0ptimus conducted a national survey to learn more about what Game of Thrones fans think ahead of the series’ final episode:
Who should rule Westeros?: We asked respondents who they hope will sit on the Iron Throne when the season ends, and last week’s episode likely shifted a lot of opinions. Jon Snow is the fan favorite, with support from half of respondents:
Jon Snow – 50%
Arya Stark – 12%
Sansa Stark – 11%
Daenerys Targaryen – 11%
Tyrion Lannister – 10%
Someone else – 7%
In a deeply divided nation, Jon Snow has broad bipartisan support: 47% of Democrats and 55% of Republicans nationwide are rooting for him. Female viewers are more supportive of Daenerys (13%) than male viewers (8%). Older viewers are also more willing to forgive her misdeeds- 13% of viewers over 55 still support Daenerys, compared to 10% of viewers between 35 and 54, and 9% of viewers 18-34.
Favorability of Main Characters: We also asked general favorability of 7 of the main characters in the series. Not surprisingly, House Stark is universally well liked, while the Lannisters are less popular.
In House Stark, Jon Snow and Arya tied for the best, with 81% favorability compared with only 9% unfavorability for each. Sansa rounds out the Starks, with 64% favorable compared with 19% unfavorable.
The ruling Lannister siblings are the least popular group, but Jaime appears to have been somewhat redeemed. He currently sits at 50% favorable and 35% unfavorable, while his sister is very much underwater at 22% favorable and 68% unfavorable. Cersei is unpopular with both Republicans and Democrats, but Republicans are slightly more likely to cut her a break: she sits at a net -40 among Republicans and -52 among Democrats.
Finally, a big split has emerged between Tyrion Lannister and Daenerys, two allies (for now, at least). Tyrion is widely popular, with 77% having a favorable opinion and 12% having an unfavorable opinion of him. Daenerys, on the other hand, is still above water but views are sharply divided on her. 44% have a favorable view of Daenerys, compared to 40% who have an unfavorable view. She does somewhat better among female viewers (48/40) than among male viewers (44/39), but the largest differences come with age, with her doing substantially better among older viewers (51/30) than among viewers 18-34 (44/43) and 35-54 (39/49).
Did the writers lose the fanbase?: With one episode of the season left to air, viewers are divided on the direction the writers have taken this season. Overall satisfaction sits at only +6 (53%-47%), an underwhelming performance for one of the most anticipated seasons of TV in recent memory. Younger respondents in particular find themselves dissatisfied with this final season, with viewers aged 18-35 upside down -6 (47%-53%) on their overall satisfaction. Viewers aged 35-55 were the most supportive at +14 (56%-43%) while those over the age of 55 nearly mirrored our overall result (52%-48%).
Trump’s Border Wall versus the Wall of the North: While our viewers were split on the threats of climate change and White Walkers, this was not the case when asked about which wall better protects their respective realm: The 300 mile Wall of Ice in the North or President Trump’s proposed wall along the U.S. Southern Border.
By a 2-1 margin (60%-29%), respondents believed that the Wall in the North is a better protective measure than the wall along our Southern border. This support cuts across all demos, and is even supported by respondents from all parties. Democrats were most inclined to believe in the Night’s Watch and their wall (69%-16%) with Non-Partisans just behind them (59%-33%). Even Republicans are impressed with the Wall in the North, with 48% finding the fictional 700-foot tall wall of ice to be more effective than a steel-slat solution along the Southern border (44%).
Looking at the states with the highest viewership in our sample (CA, FL, and NY), viewers in Florida are the most divided on the issue, with 39% choosing Trump’s wall and 46% the Wall in the North. For viewers in CA and NY, however, the gap widens significantly; CA viewers choose the Wall in the North by a +47 margin, and NY viewers choose it by a +65 margin.
White Walkers versus Climate Change: Since many fans and theorists have compared the threat of the White Walkers to that of man-made climate change, we decided to test which of these threats our viewers believed loomed larger as of the outset of the season. Interestingly, viewers were nearly split between man-made climate change (44%) and White Walkers (45%), with 11% unsure.
These results, unsurprisingly, were split along party lines. A majority of Democrats believe man-made climate change to be a larger threat to the realm of men than the White Walkers (52%-39%). Republicans were even more polarized, with 58% believing that White Walkers pose the ultimate challenge to the survival of men (and only 32% opting for man-made climate change). Non-partisans came down in favor of man-made climate change, albeit by only 3% (44%-41%).
Unfortunately, with the White Walkers destroyed and most Americans split on the issue of climate change, only Bran may ever know the truth.
The 2020 Campaign’s Ruthlessness: Apparently, the 2020 election is expected to be worse than a Dragon-fire genocide. While the Battle of King’s Landing involved the literal fire and blood that Daenerys has been promising for 7 seasons now, most viewers think the 2020 election will be even more heated. All told, 74% of respondents believe that the 2020 Presidential campaign will be as ruthless (28%) or even more ruthless (46%) than the event’s of last week’s episode.
Those who have seen the fewest winters (18-35 year olds) were the most optimistic, with 32% believing the upcoming election will be less ruthless than the sacking of King’s Landing. By comparison, fewer than 20% of viewers over the age of 55 believe the same.
By partisanship, a majority (56%) of Republicans expect the Presidential campaign to exceed the ruthlessness of the Battle of King’s Landing. With 23% expecting the same ruthlessness, that leaves only 1-in-5 Republicans believing the election will less ruthless. By comparison, only 44% of Democrats share a vision of a more ruthless campaign (climbing to 73% when including those that believe it will be “as ruthless”). Non-
Partisans are the most optimistic, with only 39% saying “more ruthless” (climbing to 71% when adding in “as ruthless”).
Game of Thrones watchers and the 2020 election: In addition to our Game of Thrones-inspired questions, we also asked respondents straightforward favorability questions on Donald Trump and Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden. Both candidates are underwater among both Game of Thrones watchers and the general registered voter base, but Donald Trump is much more unfavorable among Game of Thrones watchers specifically. His net favorability among viewers sits at -28, compared to a nearly even -1 net favorability among non-viewers. On the other hand, Joe Biden is at -5 among viewers and -6 among non-viewers.
This dynamic is largely reflective of the age demographics of Game of Thrones, which leans heavily towards the 18-49 year old demo, while the average age of registered voters nationwide is 51. In our survey, 48% of 18-34 year olds, 34% of 35-54 year olds, and 16% of those 55 and over say they watch the show, and while 34% of Democrats and 35% of non-partisans say they watch, only 23% of Republicans say they do.
Methodology: Between 05/14-05/15, we surveyed 2,360 registered voters nationwide, including 458 Game of Thrones viewers, via landline IVR and cell phone texts. Sample was drawn from the most recent L2 file available in each state and weighted by age, gender and party based on the composition of the registered voter pool. Results were subsequently re-balanced based on these cohorts. Margin of error varies by question and segment but is generally ± 1.9 for political questions (general sampling frame) and ± 4.6 for Game of Thrones watchers specifically.