Poll: Democratic voters want their candidates to participate in Fox News town halls

The vast majority of Democratic voters say presidential candidates from their party should participate in Fox News town halls, despite opposition from some high-profile White House hopefuls, according to a new poll.

In a Hill-HarrisX survey released Thursday, 78 percent of registered voters who identified as Democrats said candidates for the party's 2020 nomination should appear in the televised events hosted by the cable network.

Very liberal respondents also said they backed the idea. Seventy-two percent of respondents who identified as strong liberals said Democratic candidates should join in the Fox News town halls.

Voters who said they leaned liberal were even more likely to agree, with 80 percent saying White House hopefuls should participate in the candidate forums.

Independent and Republican voters also backed the idea of Democrats appearing on Fox News -- 75 percent of independents were supportive, as were 79 percent of Republicans.

Democratic National Committee Chairman Tom PerezThomas Edward PerezClinton’s top five vice presidential picks Government social programs: Triumph of hope over evidence Labor’s 'wasteful spending and mismanagement” at Workers’ Comp MORE in March ruled out partnering with Fox News for a candidate forum, citing a news reports alleging close ties between President TrumpDonald John TrumpUSAID administrator tests positive for COVID-19 Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year DOJ appeals ruling preventing it from replacing Trump in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit MORE and several network employees.

A month later, Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersClyburn: Biden falling short on naming Black figures to top posts Prepare for buyers' remorse when Biden/Harris nationalize health care Biden: 'Difficult decision' to staff administration with House, Senate members MORE (I-Vt.) brought Fox News back into the Democratic conversation by participating in a town hall discussion hosted by the network. He received higher ratings than similar events hosted by CNN.

Since his appearance, a handful of other Democratic candidates have followed suit.

But some contenders have dismissed the idea. Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenKamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Mnuchin to put 5B in COVID-19 relief funds beyond successor's reach No, the government cannot seize, break or 'bypass' pharmaceutical patents — even for COVID-19 MORE (D-Mass.) this month publicly turned down a Fox News request to appear on the network, calling the cable channel a "hate-for-profit racket" and making her refusal the subject of a fundraising pitch.

Sen. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisHarris says she has 'not yet' spoken to Pence Kamala Harris, Stacey Abrams among nominees for Time magazine's 2020 Person of the Year Mexican president breaks with other world leaders, refusing to acknowledge Biden win until election is finalized MORE's (D-Calif.) campaign previously told The Hill that Fox News had "reached out, but we haven't entertained it."

Trump, who frequently watches and tweets about Fox News, has repeatedly criticized the channel for hosting Democratic candidates.

"What is going on with Fox? What is going on there? They're putting more Democrats on than you have Republicans," Trump said at a May 20 campaign rally. "Something strange is going on — something very strange."

Public opinion surveys have shown that while Fox News dominates among Republican-leaning Americans, it also has a sizable number of viewers who are not conservative.

One poll, conducted by the Democratic consulting partnership Navigator Research, found that 16 percent of adults who identify as Democrats said they watched Fox News at least several times a week. In 2014, the Pew Research Center found that 39 percent of adults with ideologically mixed views tuned into the channel for political news at least once a week.

The Hill-HarrisX survey was conducted May 24-25 among an online panel of 1,001 registered voters. It has a 95 percent confidence level and a 3.1 percent sampling margin of error.

—Matthew Sheffield