The second debate of the 2024 Republican primary drew an average audience of 9.5million, statistics show.
The simulcast saw 1.82 million tune in to Fox Business for the event, while roughly 6.69 million watched on sister channel Fox News. Another 813,000 viewers took it on Spanish-speaking Univision, whereas 200,000 more streamed it on Fox Nation.
On Fox Business – the official sponsor of the event – the debate delivered the network’s highest-rated telecast since 2016, despite Donald Trump being notably absent.
That said, the former president – and current frontrunner – also missed the first, which delivered a much more robust 12.8million after it aired last month, that time also on Fox.
The second debate of the 2024 Republican primary drew an average audience of 9.5million – down more than 3million from last month’s
Spread across three separate channels, the debate’s viewership was down from the first, but still the most-watched thing on TV
That said, a drop off from a first debate to the second is far from abnormal, historical data shows – given the inherent intrigue of a first faceoff between the candidates.
Seven in total participated this time around, after Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, who qualified for the first debate, failed to make the finalized list after he came short on necessary polling numbers.
Left standing Wednesday were ex New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and South Carolina’s Nikki Haley and Tim Scott.
The seven sparred on-stage at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library for a total of two hours, in front of a California crowd who at times could be heard reacting to the war of words with both confusion and silence.
Jokes – sans one from Christie that stated Trump should be known as ‘Donald Duck’ – often fell flat, and aggressive showings from figures like Haley and pharma billionaire Ramaswamy looked to have potential to divide Republican voters.
Also striking was how uncomfortable candidates appeared while discussing hot-button issues such as abortion – a topic that took more than a 100 minutes to even be brought up.
Also discussed were polarizing subjects like gender identity and ‘transgenderism’, as Ramaswamy called it, after many pegged the 38-year-old newcomer as the surprise winner of last month’s debate.
He slammed the phenomena, ‘especially in kids, [as] a mental health disorder.’
The debate’s viewership was down more than 3million from the first, held in Milwaukee on August 23, but was still the most-watched thing on TV
Such comments managed to draw somewhat respectable ratings – though on a night where major broadcasters for the most part stuck to game shows and reality TV.
Still, such a decision shows the average US viewer’s burgeoning interest in major live political events, especially following the circus that was the 2016 campaign, which started Trump’s meteoric ascent to the top of the party.
Eight years later, he remains at the top of the heap, and his absence could be felt both on the stage and in Wednesday Nielsen ratings.
Comparing it with other political TV face-offs, Trump’s first presidential debate with Hilary Clinton in 2016 drew 84 million US TV viewers, while his clash with Biden last election cycle secured an audience of 73 million.
The number is also down significantly from the average 15.5 million spread across the 12 primary debates in 2016, when Trump took TV by storm with a decidedly atypical debating style.
Noting his own absence last month, Trump at the time claimed the first debate got low ratings – though considering its absence and the fact that it was during a primary, the figure was actually somewhat on the mark.
Be that as it may, Trump’s first presidential debate in August of 2015 drew a historic 24 million viewers – though at a time where the eventual president was still considered a novelty and amid a much more contentious race.
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