Sep 13, 2019

Early debate ratings show high interest in the Democratic primaries

Democratic presidential hopefuls on the debate stage on Sept. 12, in Houston. Photo: Robyn Back/AFP/Getty Images

Early and unofficial Nielsen ratings on Thursday night's Democratic presidential primary debate well exceeded 10 million viewers, far above other programs on TV that night, CNN reports.

Why it matters: Though the official numbers are set to release Friday afternoon, the preliminary numbers show that interest in the primary process is higher than past primaries.

Context: The third Democratic primary debate ahead of the 2016 election averaged only 8 million total viewers, but ABC held that debate on a Saturday night, a traditionally low-viewing night for networks.

  • The first round of the debates in June averaged 16.7 million viewers over the 2 nights.
  • The second round in July on CNN averaged 9.7 million viewers over the 2 nights.

Of note: With an unofficial 11.4 household rating, Thursday's debate ranked just behind the record-setting night 2 of the June debate, which had 18.1 million viewers.

Between the lines: ABC's status as a broadcast network, Univision's involvement and all 10 of the top-polling candidates sharing the debate stage for the first time may have helped boost the numbers.

Yes, but: ABC may have had more viewers if it had not scheduled the debate on the same night as the NFL's Thursday Night Football.

Go deeper: The viral moments from last night's debate

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CNN, NYT to co-host 4th Democratic debates

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) at Democratic debate July 30. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

CNN and the New York Times will co-host the 4th round of Democratic debates in October, the Democratic National Committee announced on Friday per a NYT report.

Where it stands: 11 candidates have qualified for the debate so far: Every hopeful onstage at September's debate, plus billionaire Tom Steyer. The event near Columbus, Ohio at Otterbein University will be held on Oct. 15, with a possible second night on Oct. 16. Qualifying candidates must poll at 2% in 4 DNC-approved polls and receive donations from 130,000 unique donors.

Go deeperArrowSep 13, 2019

The missed health care opportunities in the 3rd Democratic debate

Sen. Bernie Sanders, former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

The back-to-back ads taking opposing sides of the surprise billing debate that ran before the 2020 Democratic candidates' closing debate statements in the D.C. market provided the perfect juxtaposition between the very real fight happening in Washington and the 30-second elevator pitches being given on the debate stage.

Yes, but: There wasn't any health care news made last night, despite its prominence as a 2020 campaign issue.

Go deeperArrowSep 13, 2019

Joe Biden's record-player moment

Asked at Thursday's 2020 Democratic debate about how to repair the legacy of slavery, Joe Biden veered into an old-timey reference to home record players.

Go deeperArrowSep 13, 2019