As COVID-19 diagnoses have shaken the White House, plans for Wednesday’s vice presidential debate between current Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Kamala Harris has soldiered on. The only unknown is whether the event will break the trend of declining vice presidential debate ratings seen in the past few election cycles.
In 2008, when then-senator Joe Biden faced off with Alaskan governor Sarah Palin, 11.098 million people tuned into Fox News, on average, according to Nielsen Media Research. Of those, 3.751 million were in the advertiser-coveted age demographic of 25 to 54. CNN took in an average of 10.685 million, of whom 4.522 million were in the demo, while MSNBC brought in an average of 4.412 million with 1.863 million in the demo.
When Biden went up against Rep. Paul Ryan in 2012, numbers dipped across the networks: Fox News secured an average of 10.014 million viewers with 3.055 million in the demo. CNN nabbed a significantly lower amount than 2008, taking in only 4.176 million, on average, of whom 1.540 million were in the demo. MSNBC saw the least amount of change with an average of 4.412 million total viewers and 1.863 million demo viewers.
2016’s totals as Pence debated Hillary Clinton sank even lower. Fox News fell well below its 2012 number but still lead the way in total average viewers with 6.116 million. Its demo viewers averaged out to 1.530 million, however, putting it behind CNN in the key slot. CNN had just slightly lower viewership than 2012, bringing in 4.169 million average viewers, but secured more demo viewers than the previous cycle with 1.676 million. MSNBC had an average of 3.135 million total viewers but only 910,000 in the demo.
With the pandemic, ongoing unrest over systemic racism and serious concerns about the economy dominating the headlines, there will be no shortage of topics for Pence and Harris Wednesday night. Whether there will be a shortage of viewers to hear their answers remains to be seen.
USA Today’s Susan Page will moderate the event, which kicks off at 9 p.m. ET.
Read original story Will Kamala Harris and Mike Pence Buck the Trend of Declining VP Debate Ratings? At TheWrap