Polling News

Presidential Debate Viewership

June 27, 2024

While viewership for presidential debates has risen and fallen over recent years, there are still a large number of viewers, even at a low level. This first presidential debate tonight airs earlier in the election year compared to debates in recent years, however, it is likely to attract a similar viewership as past debates. 

By The Numbers:

  • The first debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump in 2016 had the highest ratings for a presidential debate in the last 60 years, with 84 million viewers. The second-highest viewership was during the second debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980, with 80.6 million viewers. 

  • The debates between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole had the lowest ratings, with roughly 36 million viewers for each. The debates between Al Gore and George W. Bush were also low, with 46.6 million viewers for the first debate and roughly 37 million viewers for the second and the third debate in 2000. 

The Bottom Line: It’s unclear if tonight’s debate will track towards high viewership or low viewership. In a repeat of 2020, both candidates’ core supporters will likely tune in, but it’s unclear how many swing or undecided voters will watch. While a debate right before the 4th of July holiday may attract less viewers, the hype around each candidate’s performance could push viewership closer to the high levels we saw in 2020.

Related PollingNews

Placeholder polling news
July 11, 2024 |
Polling News
Democrats clamoring for Joe Biden to step aside may not find relief with Kamala Harris.  ...
Placeholder polling news
July 04, 2024 |
Polling News
There’s been much anticipation about post-debate polls to see what movement there’s been after President Joe Biden’s disastrous debate performance one week ago.  ...
Placeholder polling news
June 20, 2024 |
Polling News
According to a Washington Post-Schar School poll, 61% of voters in six key swing states (Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin) are “Decider” voters. ...
Placeholder polling news
June 13, 2024 |
Polling News
Initial reports Last week showed the Trump verdict didn’t cost the former president votes, but some surveys found that it persuaded undecided voters to lean to Biden. ...
Button karlsbooks
Button readinglist
Button nextapperance