The Fox News debate continued a downward trend in Republican viewership, as the latest GOP debate was the second lowest rated of the entire year.
CNN reported the early numbers:
Fox News Channel’s Trump-less debate had an 8.4 household rating, according to early Nielsen data from so-called metered markets.
The most recent GOP debate, televised two weeks ago on the harder-to-find Fox Business Network, had a household rating of 7.4.
Actual viewership numbers will be available later in the day on Friday. Fox News likely had 11 million to 13 million viewers for the debate.
If the Fox News debate did 11 million viewers, it will be in the same ballpark as the Fox Business debate, which also had 11 million viewers and the most recent Democratic debate that had 10.2 million viewers. The undeniable fact is that with or without Trump, Republican debate viewership is going in the wrong direction as voters are getting ready to caucus and go to the polls.
Democratic debate viewership, even with the horrible schedule, has been growing at a steady rate. One party is losing viewers while the other is gaining. Recent debates have demonstrated that having Trump there wouldn’t have mattered much. Except for the novelty of Trump’s first debate, the billionaire has been a declining ratings draw on the debate stage.
Fox did crush Trump’s fake fundraiser for veterans, but in terms of real viewership, the two programs combined likely did not draw the 20-25 million viewers that Fox News was expecting for the debate. Both Trump and Fox News can claim victory in their feud. Fox’s numbers were down without Trump, but they crushed Trump’s rally in the head to head matchup.
The big picture problem for Republicans is that casual viewers/voters aren’t interested in Trump or the GOP. The debates are a symptom of a party that rode a celebrity publicity wave to some historic debates rates, but the fad is over, and there are early signs that the Republican nominee is going to get crushed in November.
The biggest winners in the Trump/Fox spat are the Democrats.