Why Obama and Romney Should Court Heavy Metal Fans

Metal music fans are most likely to be independent

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Singer Marilyn Manson
Singer Marilyn Manson performs in Berlin, Germany.

It's been said that independent voters are going to decide November's election. If that's the case, maybe Barack Obama and Mitt Romney should be spending some more time wooing voters at heavy metal concerts. According to a new joint analysis of Americans' music habits and political beliefs, people who listen to metal bands are most likely to be independent voters.

The Echo Nest, a company that analyzes online music plays for companies such as Spotify, MTV, and several record companies, compared artist plays with self-professed political leanings (culled from Facebook and other social networks) to determine if there was a correlation between artist and political leanings. The results aren't terribly shocking: Fans of country artists are most commonly Republican, while Madonna, Jay-Z, Lady Gaga, and Rihanna top the Democratic list.

According to the analysis, it was impossible to predict the political leanings of heavy metal fans. Marilyn Manson, Pantera, Alice in Chains, and three other heavy metal bands are among the top 10 artists with the "highest confusion."

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Perhaps not surprisingly, the Beatles, Rolling Stones, and Johnny Cash also make the list because they're three artists that are almost universally liked.

"The Beatles are up there because they're the most popular band in the world. It doesn't tell you much," says Brian Whitman, CTO of The Echo Nest. "But then there's these heavy metal and death metal bands, and there's two kinds of people who like that kind of music," he says, adding metal fans are usually people who are either politically independent or apathetic.

Whitman admits the project was mostly for fun, and it's hard to make any predictions based on the data, especially because the company wasn't able to determine the age (though all were 13 or older) or voting status of several million online music streamers analyzed.

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That means Mitt Romney can breathe a sigh of relief—people who listen to the current Top 10 songs on the Billboard charts skew overwhelmingly Democrat. Too bad for Obama, we don't think he'll be getting too many votes from the "Call Me Maybe" crowd.

Top 10 "Republican" Artists

Kenny Chesney

George Strait

Reba McEntire

Tim McGraw

Jason Aldean

Blake Shelton

Shania Twain

Kelly Clarkson

Pink Floyd

Elvis Presley

Top 10 "Democrat" Artists

Rihanna

Jay-Z

Madonna

Lady Gaga

Katy Perry

Snoop Dogg

Chris Brown

Usher

Eminem

Bob Marley

Top 10 "Hardest to Predict"

The Beatles

Marilyn Manson

The Rolling Stones

Johnny Cash

Pantera

Alice in Chains

Paradise Lost

Moonspell

Fleetwood Mac

Tiamat

Jason Koebler is a science and technology reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow him on Twitter or reach him at jkoebler@usnews.com

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