Here's some news about last night's debate that you didn't hear at last night's debate — but which may be just as important as what the candidates said. The audience for CNN's Republican debate, according to Nielsen Fast National ratings, was 23 million viewers. The audience for the earlier debate, between just four candidates, was 6.3 million.
These numbers are comparable to the 24 million who watched the Fox News debate August 6 and the 6.1 million who watched the earlier Fox debate, with seven candidates. Any speculation that Republican voters or those interested in Republican candidates would be less likely to watch the debates on CNN than the debates on Fox News turned out to be ill-founded. Voters who wanted to watch managed to tune in.
Note that this represents a huge increase in the debate audience over previous years. CNN's highest rated debate before this year, a Democratic debate on January 31, 2008, much later in the election cycle, drew 8.3 million viewers. The CNN audience last night was almost three times as large.Allahpundit reports:
If you’re a Trump fan, take heart. This Michigan survey was conducted before last night’s debate, where Carson didn’t perform especially well. And the overnight poll from Gravis was limited to Republicans who watched the debate. It might simply be reflecting momentary “Wow, Carly!” sentiment, something that’ll dim a bit once we’re back to 24/7 Trump coverage on cable news. And Trump fans who missed the debate entirely have no reason to change their vote this morning, so he probably still leads nationally. The big question is by how much.
Even so, if I’m not mistaken, these are the first two polls anywhere since Trumpmania broke big that don’t show him on top.
That’s a poll of the race itself, not a poll asking who won the debate. On that question Fiorina was the clear winner with 33 percent versus 21 percent for Trump and 16 percent for Marco Rubio. Fiorina also did more to help herself last night than any other candidate: When people were asked if their opinion of her was more or less favorable favorable after watching, the split was a phenomenal 78/13. Only Rubio approached those numbers among the rest of the field, splitting 71/19. In fact, every candidate in the field polled either more favorably after the debate or saw no change in their perceptions except two. One was Rand Paul, whom 58 percent viewed less favorably versus just 15 percent more favorably. The other? Donald Trump, who split 33/36. Hmmmm.