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Second Presidential Debate Drew 65.6 Million Viewers

Tuesday night’s debate drew almost as many viewers as the first debate:

The second debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney reached nearly as many people as the first debate, according to Nielsen, reflecting robust and sustained interest in the presidential election three weeks before Election Day.

Nielsen said 65.6 million viewers watched the Tuesday night town hall format event on television at home, down just 2.4 percent from the debate on Oct. 3. Untold millions more watched the two debates on TV sets in public places and watched on computers, phones and tablets, but those viewers are not counted in Nielsen’s totals.

Fox News, with 11.1 million viewers during the debate, enjoyed the biggest audience in its 16-year history on Tuesday. The cable channel has hit 11.1 million viewers just once before: during the vice presidential debate between Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Sarah Palin in 2008.

Two broadcast networks, NBC and ABC, drew more total viewers than Fox News, NBC with 13.8 million and ABC with 12.4 million. CBS had about 8.9 million viewers, CNN had 5.77 million and MSNBC had 4.87 million.

Though the total TV viewership was lower on Tuesday than it was two weeks ago for the first debate, some online sources said they saw an increase in traffic. NBCNews.com served up about 320,000 live video streams on Tuesday night, 30 percent more than it did during the first debate.

If nothing else, this would seem to indicate a continued high level of interest in the election.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Geek, Esq. says:

    That’s certainly good news for Team Obama. With the last debate coming up in his wheelhouse (Obama has always been more comfortable discussing foreign policy than domestic–going back to 2007), the lasting image voters will have will be the guy who showed up and took command, not the ghost who showed up at the first debate.

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  2. Tillman says:

    Hypothesis: People tuned in to see if Obama would repeat his first debate performance. It was basically a double-take given how bad his first performance was.

    Also, that number’s much higher than I’d been led to expect.

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