Sec­ond Repub­li­can debate sees sig­nif­i­cant drop in view­er­ship

Second Republican debate sees significant drop in viewership

The sec­ond Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial debate saw a sig­nif­i­cant drop in view­er­ship from the first.
Wednes­day’s debate attract­ed a con­sid­er­able audi­ence — 9 mil­lion view­ers, accord­ing to Nielsen rat­ings. How­ev­er, that was a full four mil­lion few­er than the 13 mil­lion who watched the first debate, even though the sec­ond debate saw a fair share of notable moments.
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Fur­ther­more, the 9 mil­lion view­ers are only a frac­tion of those who watched for­mer Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s debate debut in 2015, which drew 24 mil­lion view­ers.

Busi­ness­man Vivek Ramaswamy, left, argues a point with Sen. Tim Scott (R‑SC) dur­ing a Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry debate host­ed by Fox Busi­ness Net­work and Uni­vi­sion, Wednes­day, Sept. 27, 2023, at the Ronald Rea­gan Pres­i­den­tial Library in Simi Val­ley, Cal­i­for­nia.
Mark J. Terrill/AP

The major decline in view­er­ship reflects sev­er­al fac­tors. The first and most obvi­ous is the absence of the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s biggest view­er mag­net: Trump. He sat out the first two 2024 debates and is hold­ing a lead near­ing 50 per­cent­age points over his near­est com­peti­tor.
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How­ev­er, the decline in view­ers isn’t explained by Trump’s absence alone. The decline also reflects the decline in cable news view­er­ship as more peo­ple turn to social media and stream­ing.
Trump has sug­gest­ed can­cel­ing the Repub­li­can debates alto­geth­er and focus­ing on sup­port­ing him instead.