2016 Second Presidential Debate Ratings: How Many People Watched?

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Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton debate for the second time at Washington University in St. Louis. (Getty)

The first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton made history, becoming the most-watched in the history of American politics. Heading into the second debate with the Republican party in turmoil, many thought that October 9th’s event might actually beat that number. Was that the case? How many people tuned in?

While we don’t have exact numbers yet, we now know that the second debate fell significantly short of the first debate’s ratings. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the ratings last night were down about 20 percent from the first debate two weeks ago. It scored a 37.2 overnight rating, compared to the first debate’s 46.2 rating. This equates to 69 million viewers, a drop from the first debate’s 84 million viewers. 

That’s hardly a disastrous number, and it’s about on par with all of the 2012 debates between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney (the second debate of that cycle drew about 67 million viewers). But it’s certainly nowhere close to the historic, Superbowl-style ratings that came with the presidential candidates’ first match-up, perhaps indicating that voters feel they’ve seen more than enough already.

The vice presidential debate between Mike Pence and Tim Kaine brought in about 37 million viewers last week, making the ratings the lowest since 2000, according to The Wall Street Journal.

The third and final presidential debate will take place on October 19th.


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