More than 11 million people watched US Republican presidential primary debate on Fox News

01:12 25.08.2023

The first Republican debate of the 2024 election cycle drew a record-breaking audience on Wednesday night. The two-hour debate, co-hosted by Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, garnered a combined total of 12.8 million viewers, surpassing the previous GOP forum held without former President Donald Trump. Moderated by Fox News chief political anchor Bret Baier and The Story host Martha MacCallum, the debate became the highest-rated non-sports cable telecast of the year, surpassing popular shows such as "Yellowstone." According to Nielsen Media Research, the program outperformed the combined viewership of ABC, CBS, and NBC and exceeded the ratings of all other cable offerings.

Notably, the debate attracted 2.8 million viewers in the coveted 25-54 age demographic. This impressive viewership also surpassed 70% of all presidential primary debates from both the 2016 and 2020 cycles. The significant interest in this debate can be attributed to the absence of Donald Trump, who boycotted a Fox News-hosted debate in January 2016, attracting only 12.5 million viewers. Trump's first-ever GOP debate appearance in August 2015, also hosted by Fox News, drew a staggering 24 million viewers.

However, Trump chose to skip the first debate of the 2024 cycle, opting instead to pre-record an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson for X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. Trump's decision to skip the debate was announced on Sunday night, citing his overwhelming polling lead. Despite entreaties from Fox executives and on-air hosts, Trump maintained his decision. The former president currently leads the GOP primary field with 55.4% support, according to the RealClearPolitics polling average.

The debate featured eight Republican candidates, including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, South Carolina GOP Senator Tim Scott, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum. To participate in the debate, candidates had to reach minimum thresholds in national or state-level opinion polls and receive donations from at least 40,000 unique donors. They also had to sign a pledge certifying their support for the eventual Republican nominee.

While the debate attracted a substantial audience, it fell short of the record set in 2015 when the first GOP primary debate on Fox News, featuring Donald Trump, drew a staggering 24 million viewers. The absence of Trump, who is currently the front-runner in the GOP field, likely contributed to the slightly lower viewership. However, Trump's pre-recorded interview with Tucker Carlson on X garnered more than 74 million views, although this figure is not comparable to Nielsen statistics as it includes any instance in which a user encounters the video, regardless of whether they played it entirely or only saw a few seconds.

Despite the decline in cable subscriptions affecting traditional television ratings, the Republican primary debates continue to be a significant event in American politics. The next debate is scheduled for September 27th in California, with several more likely to follow. The battle for the Republican nomination will culminate with the Iowa caucus on January 15, 2024, as the candidates strive to secure their spot in the race to challenge Democratic President Joe Biden.

/ Friday, August 25, 2023, 1:12 AM /

themes:  Joe Biden  Donald Trump  California  Florida  New Jersey  South Carolina  Iowa  Arkansas  North Dakota

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