Trump-Biden Debate Ratings Drop from 2016 Opener

CLEVELAND, OHIO - SEPTEMBER 29: U.S. President Donald Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden participate in the first presidential debate at the Health Education Campus of Case Western Reserve University on September 29, 2020 in Cleveland, Ohio. This is the first of three planned debates between the two candidates …
Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images

Tuesday evening’s debate between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden failed to draw an audience as big as the presidential debate opener between then-candidate Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, dropping 36 percent, preliminary results reveal.

According to Deadline, the debate drew 27.3 million viewers across ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox. That represents a 36 percent drop from the first presidential debate between Trump and Clinton in September 2016.

Deadline reported:

Last night saw Comcast-owned NBC snare an audience of 7.5 million in the fast affiliates and a 2.1 rating. With 5.05 million watching, CBS was third like in 2016 (though down considerably like everyone else) and Fox was fourth with 4.4 million. The ViacomCBS-owned network had a 1.1 rating and the Murdoch-owned Fox had a 1.3.

The outlet added that the numbers will “shift upwards as Nielsen numbers are adjusted in the final results,” which will include other networks that aired the debate, including CNN and MSNBC:

The debate drew ire from both the left and the allies of the president. Many far-left progressives, whom Biden largely alienated after rejecting the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, called for future debates to be canceled, while Trump allies blasted moderator Chris Wallace, whom they said obviously favored Biden over the president.

On Wednesday, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD) announced that it will provide “additional structure” in the remaining debates to “ensure a more orderly discussion of the issues.”

“They’re only doing this because their guy got pummeled last night,” Trump Campaign Communications Director Tim Murtaugh said in a statement.

“President Trump was the dominant force and now Joe Biden is trying to work the refs. They shouldn’t be moving the goalposts and changing the rules in the middle of the game,” he added.

Update: According to CNN, “preliminary Nielsen ratings showed an average audience of roughly 64.7 million viewers across eight channels” for Tuesday’s debate. The number does not include those who streamed the event online.


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