Monday Night’s Debate Had The Fewest Viewers Of All 2012 Presidential Debates

Last night’s foreign policy debate drew in a fairly event number of viewers, but it was nowhere near what the previous three debates had garnered:

59.2 million people watched the final presidential debate, the lowest turnout for a presidential debate this cycle, according to Nielsen.

Last night’s foreign policy debate in Boca Raton, Fla., was carried across 11 networks, as Fox News instead ran Game 7 of the MLB NLCS playoffs, which drew 8.1 million viewers. Monday Night Football also drew 10.7 million viewers to ESPN.

The 59.2 million reflects total audiences for ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision, PBS, CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, CurrentTV and CNBC between 9 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. ET, and for Telemundo, which aired the debate on tape delay.

These numbers are lower than the viewership for the first and second Presidential debate, but more than the Vice-Presidential debate.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , , , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held 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 contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. mantis says:

    Bears game. Watched the debate online later.

  2. @mantis:

    You are a wise man.

    At least in your viewership choices 🙂

  3. Tano says:

    Geez Doug, get a grip.

    NFL Monday night football gets 10 million. The NLCS game 7 gets 8 million. And the debate gets 59 million!!!???!!!

    And all you can do is snark about how that is less than 65 million?

    How about – “Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy is six times more popular than football”?
    or “American people shun sports in favor of analyzing candidates positions on foreign policy”?

    Break out of the lazy, tired snark and make some insightful posts about the real world, for a change….

  4. bill says:

    well there was the bears-lions as well as game 7 of the nlcs (it was a game for nearly 3 innings anyway) i tivo’d the debate- have yet to watch it. in essence, romney won the series by showing that he’s a great speaker and can talk about anything anytime- just what the undecideds needed to see- hence the lead in the polls.