How Many People Will Watch the First Debate?

By Chris Ariens 

In that Morning Consult tracking poll we showed you Tuesday—the one that asked which moderators will be “toughest” and “least biased” (Anderson Cooper)—there’s also a question about whether registered voters will watch Monday’s first debate.

73 percent said they were Very likely or Somewhat likely to watch (another 24 percent weren’t too likely or not at all likely).

If we extrapolate that, if 73 percent of 146,311,000 registered voters watch the debate, that means more than 106 million will be tuning in. That’s approaching Super Bowl status. (This year’s Super Bowl was watched by 112 million). While 106 million will be a stretch, network insiders we’ve talked to think the number will easily top 80 million.


The first 2012 debate between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama drew 67.2 million viewers.