The Fox Business Debate was the least watched Republican debate of the 2016 cycle. The Republican Party has lost 14 million viewers since the first GOP 2016 debate on Fox News.
Among all viewers, the total was 11 million for the prime time debate between 9 and 11:30 p.m. Eastern; among viewers ages 25 to 54, the key demographic for cable news channels, 3 million tuned in.
The totals are down from Fox Business Network’s first GOP debate, held back in November, which averaged 13.5 million for the prime time debate and 4.7 million for the “undercard” debate.
Lack of interest in the “undercard” this time around may have put a damper on the prime time totals. The mostly overlooked six p.m. debate averaged 2 million viewers and 289,000 in the 25-54 demo.
As people get closer to voting in Iowa and New Hampshire, the numbers are going in the wrong direction. The novelty of Donald Trump as a presidential candidate is wearing thin, so while Republicans are seeing bigger audiences than they did in 2012, interest in their primary is decreasing.
The ratings also reveal that it is time to get rid of the undercard debates. Last night’s early debate was the worst one yet. The talent and upside are completely lacking. The fact that the debate could have been helped by the “star power” of Rand Paul is proof that it is time for the cable networks to pull the plug on the ratings grabs that are disguised as undercard debates. Viewers aren’t fooled anymore, and they have stopped tuning in.
In a heavily contested election, such as the one that is currently going on in the Republican Party, it is reasonable to expect that debate viewership would go up as the stakes get higher. The exact opposite has been happening to the Republicans. The more voters see of the Republican candidates, the less interested they are.
The Republicans lack real political star power. Donald Trump has toned down his act and is on the verge of becoming just another boring billionaire who is running for the Republican nomination. Substance and entertainment have both been lacking in the latest Republican debates. The Fox Business debate was long, out of control, and uninformative.
It is a bad sign for Republicans that the more voters see of them, the more they tune them out. The Trump bubble has burst, and the Republican Party looks like it is back on its regular downward spiral towards presidential election defeat.