The biggest drama of the year.

The biggest drama of the year ain’t on a Broadway stage.

This year’s biggest drama is on the political stage.

The question is, do elections have an effect on Broadway grosses?  As Jerry Lewis says every Labor Day during his telethon when he wants to look at the numbers . . . “TIMPANI”

I took a look at the Broadway grosses tote board from 9/1 through election day since ’85 (all available online, btw), and here’s what I found out.

In the 5 presidential election years since ’85, the grosses during that specified period (9/1 – Election Day) grew by an average of 12.51% and the attendance grew by an average of 8.70% versus the same period one year prior.

In all the other years since ’85, the grosses grew by an average of 5.83% and the total attendance grew by only 1.12%.

Yep, election year growth is outpacing non-election year growth.

I was just as surprised as you.  Yet another reminder that an assumption is never as good as a calculation.

I cannot tell a lie, however, and I must admit that I don’t believe we have enough data to determine if there’s any correlation.

Since the League’s website doesn’t report earlier than ’85, I guess we’ll just have to see what happens in November.

Stay tuned for an update after this year’s biggest drama climaxes.

Even then, we probably still won’t have enough data.  So, we’ll just have to see what happens over the next 5 presidential election years.

You’ll still be reading in 20 years, right?

Think any of the shows currently on the boards will still be running?

Oh, and P.S.

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  • Just wanted to let you know that I heard about this on your first Broadway Bullet. Great blog, and I now have your RSS feed syndicated on LiveJournal as the user prodcrspespctve
    I’ve also let my daughter know about it. She’s entering high school, interested in technical theatre and production management.

  • Do you think the jump in the grosses during election years has anything to do with the need to escape the drama that unfolds on the political stage? Perhaps people grow tired of hearing about all that’s wrong with our country and just need to get away and be entertained. A similar analysis should be done with film grosses. Do more people go to the movies during election years? And are comedies more successful than dramas? Just curious… And I agree that the data we have only paints a partial picture – while the quantitative data tells us the what, it doesn’t tell us the why.

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