Despite assurances from the mainstream media that Tuesday’s Democratic debate would struggle to attract viewers — and suggestions its focus on policy would pale in comparison to the name-calling drama of Republican debates — the face-off drew the highest ratings in history for a Democratic debate.
Nielsen reported Wednesday afternoon that 15.3 million viewers — the sixth-biggest nonsports cable telecast in history. That also beats the next largest viewership in history for a Democratic debate — the historic January 2008 showdown between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama — by nearly a million people.
CREDIT: Dylan Petrohilos/ThinkProgress
In addition, nearly a million people simultaneously watched CNN’s livestream of the debate — in which the five candidates dug into their policy differences on marijuana, gun control, and workplace inequality, among other topics. In comparison, CNN’s Republican debate had 921,000 concurrent streams.
The debate’s TV ratings, however, did not come close to the whopping 23 million people who tuned in for the melee between Donald Trump and 10 other Republicans in mid-September — a historical anomaly.