As we await the Commission on Presidential Debates announcing who will moderate the three presidential and one vice presidential debates, Nielsen has released ratings from previous presidential match-ups.
The primary debates gave us a good sense of how engaged the electorate has been this time around. The first GOP debate on Fox News last August was the most-watched program ever on cable news. The second GOP debate in September on CNN, was the most-watched program ever for that network.
Nielsen found the most-watched debate since 1980 occurred just last cycle when Mitt Romney and Barack Obama faced off in their first debate which was moderated by Jim Lehrer. For the second most-watched debate, you have to go back 36 years to the lone debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter, held a week before the election.