Debate Rating: Only 12.8M Watched, 13M Less than Donald Trump’s 2015 Debut

(From L) Former US Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, entrepreneur
PEDRO UGARTE/AFP via Getty Images

Only 12.8 million watched Fox News’ Republican primary debate Wednesday night in Milwaukee, about 13 million viewers less than former President Donald Trump’s debate debut in 2015, Nielsen Media Research data shows.

FILE – In this Oct. 28, 2015 file photo, from left, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Donald Trump and Ben Carson, participate in a debate for Republican presidential hopefuls in Boulder, Colo. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)

In the key advertising demographic of viewers between the ages of 25-54, the debate received 2.8 million viewers.

Fox News claimed the debate drew more viewers than more than 70 percent of all presidential primary debates in the 2016 and 2020 cycles. The network also said it was the highest-rated nonsports cable telecast of 2023.

The GOP primary debate fell short of the first two Democrat primary debates in 2020, which received 19 million, 15 million, respectively, the Hill reported. The third Democrat debate received 10 million.

Wednesday’s debate ratings presumably suffered because Trump decided not to attend the event. Trump cited huge polling leads in his decision to forgo the debate.

Just five minutes before the debate began, Tucker Carlson released a counter-programming interview with Trump.

Follow Wendell Husebø on Twitter @WendellHusebø. He is the author of Politics of Slave Morality.


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