New Poll Names Walt Disney Company Fifth Most Politically Polarizing Brand in America

Shannen Ace

New Poll Names Walt Disney Company Fifth Most Politically Polarizing Brand in America

The Walt Disney Company is the fifth most politically polarizing brand in America, according to a poll by Axios, and was ranked 77th on this year’s Axios Harris Poll 100, which measures reputation.

Walt Disney Company Makes Top 10 Most Polarizing Brands

walt disney company

The politically polarizing brands are determined by measuring the gap between assessments of Republican and Democratic respondents. Here are the top ten most politically polarizing brands:

  1. Trump Organization
  2. Fox Corporation
  3. Hobby Lobby
  4. FTX
  5. The Walt Disney Co.
  6. Pfizer
  7. Facebook (Meta)
  8. TikTok
  9. Twitter
  10. Chick-fil-A

Disney dropped a dozen places from its position in last year’s Axios Harris Poll 100. Disney’s Reputational Quotient (RQ) was 70.9 out of 100, which is down from 73.4 last year. It’s been steadily declining since 2017, but the gap between the opinions of Democrats and Republicans is much starker than before.

With Democrats, the company’s RQ jumped from 72.5 to 80.3. With Republicans, it dropped from 75 to 61. The average RQ gap between Democrats and Republicans in the overall poll was 4.4 but was 19.3 when it came to Disney.

When asked how they felt about Disney compared with a year ago, 44% of Democrats said they felt more positive about the company, while only 21% of Republicans said they felt more positive.

42% of Republicans said they felt more negatively about Disney. 12% of Democrats said they felt more negatively.

35% of Republicans and 19% of Democrats said Disney has become “less authentic and more divisive.” 63% of Democrats and 46% of Republicans described Disney as “family-oriented.”

Disney lost points across nine attributes measured in the Axios Harris Poll 100, including 6.2 points in perceptions of future growth, 4.2. points on citizenship (“shares my values” and “supports good causes”), and 2.9 points on ethics.

“The lesson here is that when you divide you subtract,” Harris Poll CEO John Gerzema said. “When you divide audiences, you’re ultimately going to be subtracting customers for your business.”

Axios pointed to Disney’s response to Florida’s controversial Parental Rights in Education bill and the subsequent feud with Governor Ron DeSantis as the major fuel for these shifts.

Gerzema noted that, unlike other brands that have taken political stances, Disney “didn’t have a track record for speaking out on this issue” and spoke out late.

Disney declined to comment when Axios reached out.

Disney, DeSantis, and CFTOD Board Lawsuits

bob iger ron desantis reedy creek

The Florida Governor and Walt Disney Company initially clashed over the corporation’s opposition to a much-debated and controversial Florida law regarding classroom instruction and discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in public schools, alongside various other recent state laws and proposals in a similar vein.

Bob Chapek was Chief Executive Officer at the time and initially remained silent and passive on the issue — until massive internal criticisms from cast members and controversy over Disney’s practice of making hefty political contributions to campaigns and individuals allegedly against their own stated human principles came into focus. Chapek then publicly denounced the bill, which Governor DeSantis did sign into law.

In an apparent act of retribution over Chapek’s expression of dissent, the Governor moved forward with various verbal and legal assaults on Disney, including the attempted dissolution of the Reedy Creek Improvement District. The District was ultimately not dissolved, but renamed the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District, with power transferred to DeSantis as he appointed a new Board of Supervisors. DeSantis argues he is attacking a vague perception of something he calls “woke politics” invading the state.

After the CFTOD Board declared Disney and Reedy Creek’s final Development Agreement void, Disney Parks & Resorts sued the Governor and the Board, citing a “targeted campaign of government retaliation — orchestrated at every step by Governor DeSantis as punishment for Disney’s protected speech.” The plaintiff argues that this chronology of events “threatens Disney’s business operations, jeopardizes its economic future in the region, and violates its constitutional rights.”

The CFTOD Board of Supervisors voted to file their own countersuit against Disney, essentially seeking to void and de-legitimize agreements Disney made with the previous Reedy Creek Improvement District before its forced dissolution. The new 188-page complaint names the Board itself as the plaintiff against Disney Parks & Resorts. The district is asking the court to render Disney’s development agreement with the Reedy Creek Improvement District unenforceable, null, and void. They also ask the same be done of the restrictive covenants, which notably set the benchmark for expiry at 21 years after the death of the last living descendant of King Charles III, living as of the date of the document.

While Disney’s lawsuit is through federal court, the Board’s lawsuit is through Florida’s state courts.

recent poll shows Americans think the court should rule in favor of Disney over Governor DeSantis and that citizens aren’t as worried about “woke politics” as other issues.

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