It’s only August. The crowded field of seventeen Republican presidential candidates has been compared, by multiple commentators, to a clown car.
Thursday’s early debate was derisively referred to as the “kiddie table,” and the prime time one was expected to be the Donald Trump Show. Still, Thursday night’s GOP debate was a ratings juggernaut for the Fox News Channel, leaving liberal darling Jon Stewart’s last Daily Show appearance in the dust.
Stewart’s final night as the Daily Show host had “approximately 3.5 million viewers,” according to Variety. The show’s official Twitter account posted a plea for viewers shortly before airing that ended up being humorously prophetic:
Tonight! Seriously, come on. There’s really a chance you’re not going to watch?
— The Daily Show (@TheDailyShow) August 7, 2015
In comparison, 24 million viewers tuned in to the 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time GOP debate, including 7.9 million in the 25- to 54-year-old age bracket. “This is now the highest non-sports cable program of all time, the highest-rated cable news program of all time, and Fox News’s most-watched program ever,” wrote AdWeek.
The 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time GOP debate drew solid numbers as well: 6.1 million viewers and 1.2 million in the 25- to 54-year-old demo.
Let that sink in: Jon Stewart got skunked by a political debate that aired at 2:00 p.m. on the West Coast. American television viewers decided to watch seven candidates, who fell below 3 percent in the polls, debate immigration and health care policies instead of Comedy Central’s crown prince. There’s hope for this country after all.
Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker.