The second debate of the 2024 Republican primary attracted an average of 9.5 million viewers, according to statistics.
Spread across three separate channels – Fox Business, Fox News and Univision – the debate’s viewership fell by more than 3 million compared to the first time, but was still the most-watched program on television.
During the simulcast, 1.82 million viewers tuned in to the event on Fox Business, while around 6.69 million watched the sister channel Fox News. Another 813,000 viewers watched it on Spanish-language Univision, while 200,000 more streamed it on Fox Nation.
On Fox Business – the event’s official sponsor – the debate delivered the network’s highest-rated show since 2016, despite Donald Trump being noticeably absent.
However, the former president – and current leading candidate – also missed the first broadcast, which brought in a significantly higher 12.8 million after it aired last month, also on Fox.
The second debate of the 2024 Republican primary drew an average of 9.5 million viewers, down more than 3 million from the previous month
The debate, spread over three separate channels, received fewer viewers compared to the first channel, but was still the most watched program on television
However, a drop from one debate to the second is far from unusual, historical data shows, given the inherent intrigue that a first face-off between candidates brings.
This time a total of seven people took part after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who qualified for the first debate, did not make the final list because he did not meet the required poll numbers.
Remaining Wednesday were former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, former Vice President Mike Pence, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, businessman Vivek Ramaswamy, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, and Nikki Haley and Tim Scott of South Carolina left over.
The seven fought for a total of two hours on the stage of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in front of a California audience that at times reacted to the war of words with confusion and silence.
Jokes – without one from Christie, who claimed Trump should be known as “Donald Duck” – often fell flat, and aggressive appearances from figures like Haley and pharmaceutical billionaire Ramaswamy appeared to have the potential to divide Republican voters.
What was also striking was how uncomfortable the candidates appeared when discussing current issues such as abortion – a topic that wasn’t even brought up for more than 100 minutes.
Polarizing topics such as gender identity and what Ramaswamy called “transgenderism” were also discussed after many called the 38-year-old newcomer the surprise winner of last month’s debate.
He criticized the phenomena, “especially in children, [as] a mental disorder.’
This time a total of seven people took part after Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who qualified for the first debate, did not make the final list because he did not meet the required poll numbers
Aggressive performances from figures like Haley and pharmaceutical billionaire Ramaswamy appeared to have the potential to divide Republican voters
Jokes – not including one from Christie, who claimed Trump should be known as “Donald Duck” – also often failed, on a night when America’s Got Talent and Survior were the next best shows in terms of ratings
Such comments led to somewhat respectable ratings – albeit on a night when the major networks were largely limited to game shows and reality TV.
Still, such a decision shows the average U.S. viewer’s growing interest in major live political events, especially after the circus of the 2016 election campaign that launched Trump’s meteoric rise to the top of the party.
Eight years later, he remains at the top, and his absence was felt both onstage and in Wednesday’s Nielsen ratings.
Compared to other televised political duels, Trump’s first presidential debate with Hilary Clinton in 2016 drew 84 million U.S. television viewers, while his face-off with Biden in the last election cycle reached 73 million viewers.
The number is also well below the average of 15.5 million across the 12 primary debates in 2016, when Trump took television by storm with a decidedly atypical debate style.
Trump noted his own absence last month, claiming at the time that the first debate received low ratings — although the number was actually somewhat accurate, given the absence and the fact that it took place during a primary.
The debate’s viewership fell by more than 3 million compared to the first debate, held in Milwaukee on August 23, but was still the most-watched event on television
Nielsen statistics that support this include the average 13.2 million television viewers – across all platforms – who watched the first two Democratic primary debates in 2020
Whatever the case, Trump’s first presidential debate in August 2015 drew a historic 24 million viewers – albeit at a time when the future president was still considered a novelty and in a much more competitive race.
This intrigue continued into the next debate, which was attended by an average of 23 million.