When the survey was in the field in early January (Jan. 4-8), there had already been 13 debates among the GOP candidates, and another two occurred while the survey was taking place. Four-in-ten (40%) Americans say they have watched one or more of these debates.
By the end of 2007, Republican candidates had held a comparable number of debates, but only 33% of the public had watched. The Democratic debates drew more interest that year, with 40% saying they had watched any of those debates.
Nearly half (47%) of Republicans have seen a debate during the current campaign, up from 32% at the same point in the 2008 campaign. Among Republicans and Republican-leaning independents who agree with the Tea Party, fully 66% have seen a GOP debate.