Aug 1, 2019

10.7 million watched Night 2 of second Democratic debate

Former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

A few buzzy zingers and testy exchanges during Night 2 of the second round of Democratic debates on Wednesday caused ratings to tick up from the previous evening.

By the numbers: More than 10 million people tuned into the second night on live television, according to preliminary numbers from Nielsen. That's higher than the 8.7 million that watched the night before.

  • An additional 3.1 million live-streamed the event on CNN’s digital properties, up from 2.7 million that live-streamed the program Tuesday.

Yes, but: Both debate nights for the second round saw audiences shrink compared to round 1, which aired in June and drew 15.3 million viewers Night 1, and another 18.1 million on Night 2.

It’s worth noting that the second round of Democratic primary debates attracted less viewership than the first round during the 2016 election cycle as well.

  • And CNN’s debate coverage only aired on CNN, while the first round of debates this cycle aired live across 3 networks: MSNBC, NBC and Telemundo.

Between the lines: CNN says Wednesday‘s debate surpassed Tuesday’s to become the network's second-highest Democratic primary debate for live viewership on record, next to its October 2015 Democratic debate in Las Vegas. It adds it was also its second most-watched debate on livestream.

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Bernie Sanders wins Twitter in hyper-engaged debate week

Data: Sprout Social; Chart: Chris Canipe/Axios

Bernie Sanders had the highest volume of Twitter mentions in the second round of the Democratic debates last week, and the debates generated 18% more tweets than the first round in June even though the TV audience was much smaller, according to data provided to Axios by Sprout Social.

Why it matters: Compared to the first round, last week's debates were heavier on disagreement and confrontation, allowing voters to see discrepancies in the candidates and how they responded to challenges in real time, a departure from rehearsed stump speeches.

Go deeperArrowAug 5, 2019

4 big takeaways from Night 2 of the second Democratic debates

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The overwhelming strategy may have been “Kill Biden” for the second night of CNN’s Democratic debates, but the former vice president came far more prepared to fend off his critics on Wednesday night than he was in June.

The big picture: Kamala Harris picked up right where she left off at last month's debates, attacking Biden early and often for upholding the status quo with his health care plan — pivoting back to Biden even when asked to respond to comments made by other candidates. But it was clear that Biden did his homework, deflecting attacks with moderate success from Harris, Sens. Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, former HUD Secretary Julián Castro, and others who came armed with opposition research.

Go deeperArrowAug 1, 2019

Kamala Harris' post-debate polling slump

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris at the Detroit debates hosted by CNN. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

After June's Democratic presidential debates, Sen. Kamala Harris has gone from a high of 20% of Democratic voters who favor her to just 7% on Tuesday, per Quinnipiac.

Why it matters: That 13-point drop in just one month indicates Harris' post-debate "sugar-high" might not be aging well, despite the fact that she's firmly established herself in the top tier of candidates in several national 2020 polls.

Go deeperArrowAug 7, 2019