The First Debate Was The Most Watched Democratic Debate Ever


CNN’s debate in Las Vegas was the most watched Democratic Party debate in television history. With an estimated 15.3 million viewers, the viewership easily eclipsed the previous record set in 2008.

A 2008 ABC debate, which pitted Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton against one another in the midst of a fiercely competitive race, drew a television audience of 10.7 million. Tuesday’s night’s debate shattered that record, attracting 43 percent more viewers than the Obama-Clinton 2008 showdown.

Although the Democratic debate did not register as many viewers as the crowded 2016 GOP debates that featured reality TV star, Donald Trump, it nevertheless exceeded pre-debate expectations. Debate watchers were rewarded with candidates providing mostly cogent answers to questions about policy, in sharp contrast to the mostly substance-less performances that took center stage at the two Republican debates.

Although the TV audience for the Democratic debate was smaller than the corresponding TV audience for the GOP debates, the Democratic debate had a larger peak audience live streaming the debate online. CNN’s live stream peaked at 980,000 concurrent streams at 10:20 PM Eastern time. The September 16th Republican debate peaked at 921,000 simultaneous live streams.

The popularity of the televised debates, over a year prior to the general election, suggests that the American people are getting engaged in the political process early for the 2016 election cycle. On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders’ candidacy has brought energy and a competitiveness to the race that would otherwise have been missing. Tuesday night’s debate gave Democratic primary voters their first opportunity to watch Sanders and Clinton speak on the same stage together.

In the national spotlight, both major candidates shined. While pundits and bloggers will argue for the next several days, about whether Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders “won” the debate, the truth is they both did well. The real winners on Tuesday night were the 15.3 million people who watched the debate. Those viewers had an opportunity to watch candidates engage one another on issues of substance, rather than attacking each other with childish taunts. When Clinton and Sanders meet again, hopefully even more Americans will tune in, because what they each have to say is worth hearing.

18 Replies to “The First Debate Was The Most Watched Democratic Debate Ever”

  1. I’m so pleased so many people in the US watched the Dems debate. I hope this continues along with a greater interest in people getting more involved in local politics & making sure to always invoke their right to vote in every election.

    I believe Bernie Sanders has helped people around the country understand that they must become more involved in the political process if they want to see change.

  2. I watched the rethug debate to see if any of them would come to blows. I’d suspect many tuned in for the same reason. There was substance in the democratic debate and I actually felt I witnessed something of value. I did come away feeling sorry for Chaffee and Webb made me very uneasy. In the end I felt informed, not entertained or just plain pissed off.

  3. Unbelievably, my hubby, who was unaware of Bernie, dropped his R card and went for “The Bern”! There is hope!

  4. while it was great to see adults, speaking without the gop usual crap. the other three stiffs, need to gracefully bow out. i dont believe joe will get in the game at this point, or he’ll just wait in the green room until the primaries.. the more bernie pushes hillary left, the better. its been his primary goal, since day one. the press is just so full of tabloid shit, nothing of substance ever gets mentioned. i even heard some local rw radio [kfi] clown in LA, call bernie a commie today.

  5. But if the Bern loses the nomination will he pull the lever for Trump, Carson or bush? If he pulls the lever for an republican then he has learn nothing

  6. I went to a lot of trouble to record the debate. CNN has not been on my channel lineup since Bush. I had to look up the channel number and then go fiddle with the TiVo. I knew I would likely not last long enough to watch it live. I did manage to stay awake to see the first few minutes. I didn’t bother with any of the build ups or the “afters”. I do not need to have what I just heard carefully explained so I can understand what it really meant. BS, I stopped being told what to think a long time ago. I make up my own mind. Take notes to make sure I don’t forget, and take my notes to the voting booth with me.
    I will admit ANYTHING that comes from Fox is a “knee jerk” for me. I don’t even have to do any fact checking.
    This reminds me. I need to send myself an email to remember to take CNN back off my lineup. Like Fox, CNN has nothing to say I want to hear.

  7. Then Bernie best win! :) I live in a fairly conservative neighborhood. I expected my Bernie yard side to be knocked over, or just disappear. It hasn’t, thankfully. I was taking my garbage bin to the curb one day, when one of my Republican neighbors came over and ask me about Bernie. I told him about his stance on Citizens United and want to level the playing field so all Americas youth could get a higher education. A week later, he told me he’d been reading up on him and watched a few videos of his speeches. He liked what he saw compared to the republican clown car. I picked up a registration form at our local Bernie Campaign Office. My neighbor is now a registered Democrat so he can Caucus with me for Bernie. He feels Bernie has a chance, but not without his vote. It’s the day to day stories of Bernie conversions I hear that keeps me psyched!

  8. Great article! So much to agree with in repetitive delivery. I felt, the best parts of Bernie’s night at the Debate were his spontaneous, unscripted,non-regurgitated moments. Such as “damned emails”, which was great, yet the MSM seems to have missed a few other moments that I feel are much stronger, “Wall Street regulates congress.” His answer regarding our nations biggest problem, Climate Change was good too. If we prioritize the middle east as other candidates stated. Climate change may get the best of us. If we lead in this area, truly lead, others will follow. And certainly his stellar answer regarding BLM. It did not play as scripted to me at all. As far as being ‘dicks’? I prefer passionate. Perhaps even overzealously-passionate on both sides in these comment sections we contribute to! :) Thanks, really appreciate you taking the time to share.

  9. There is one subject out of the debates that has been completely ignored. For whatever reason, the press not acknowledging it. I’m sure many a Bernie supporter could conspiracy theory their reasoning. I hope they don’t, as it would further push the power of what happened aside. “ He said, her name.” And he was alone on the stage when he said it. Not that the other candidates would not have said her name if given the chance. The issue was quickly swept aside, for another. I was happy yesterday to find a diary at the Daily Kos that tells the story far better than I can.

  10. There was a lot that was ignored from the VRA to climate change so Sanders saying the names of AA being gunned down it don’t mean a thing because throughout history we have always have the dogs let loose on us. In the end in Amerikkka black lives don’t matter

  11. DJ. I agree with most of the Shook/PCTC link; Bernie, the anger old grumpy dude indeed.

    Jerry Brown turned around California without a revolution, just hard work. But, Jerry is that old school establishment Democrat… sort of like Hillary.

  12. So, sorry for your pessimism, Dj. I can’t judge it, not knowing the circumstances that bring your conclusion. My confidence in speaking on BLM was squashed recently. Reminded by my son-in-law how white I am. Spending hours sharing our thoughts on the deaths of so many like Sandra Bland. He shut me down, reminding me “just because I have a black son-in-law, doesn’t mean I fully comprehend the struggle.” He knows my heart’s in the right place, yet he’s right. I cannot fully grasp the magnitude of this volatile history. The bond we have in pride and love for my granddaughter keeps us grounded and on the task of better understanding. I only wish it was a task for more Americans. I support the BLM locally and have walked with them. I have a stake in it. I have 5 grandchildren. My oldest daughter’s husband is black, my youngest daughter’s husband is Latino. As a grandparent I want the best possible future for my loved ones.

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