Vice Presidential TV Debate Ratings by the Numbers

By A.J. Katz Comment

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence will face off tonight from Longwood University for the sole vice presidential debate of the 2016 election. The 90-minute commercial-free debate will be moderated by CBS News correspondent and CBSN anchor Elaine Quijano starting at 9 p.m. ET across multiple broadcast, cable networks and streaming services. You can find out who is televising tonight’s debate here. It’s highly unlikely KainePence will reach the 84 million TV viewers that watched round one of ClintonTrump last week. But could it be the most-watched VP debate ever? That’s not likely either since the current record-holder, according to Nielsen, is the Oct. 2, 2008 vp debate between then-Delaware Sen. Joe Biden and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, which was moderated by PBS’ Gwen Ifill.

That telecast delivered 69.9 million total viewers across 11 networks, destroying the previous record of 56.7 million who tuned into the George H.W. Bush-Geraldine Ferraro debate on Oct. 11, 1984, which aired on only three networks: ABC, CBS and NBC. Bush-Ferraro is also the highest-rated to-date, with 43.6 percent of TV-equipped households tuning into one of the three networks that night.

Vice Presidential Debate Telecasts: 1976 – 2012

YEAR NETWORK DATE CANDIDATES RATING % Households (in millions) Total Viewers (in millions)
2012 12 Networks Oct. 12 Biden – Ryan  31.9  36.4 51.4
2008 11 Networks Oct. 2 Biden – Palin  41.7  47.8 69.9
2004 6 Networks Oct. 5 Cheney – Edwards  28.1  30.9 43.6
2000 6 Networks Oct. 5 Cheney – Lieberman  21.0  21.5 29
1996 4 Networks Oct. 9 Gore – Kemp  19.7  19.1 26.6
1992 4 Networks Oct. 13 Quayle – Gore – Stockdale  35.9  33.4  51.2
1988 3 Networks Oct. 5 Quayle – Bentsen  33.6  30.4  46.9
1984 3 Networks Oct. 11 Bush – Ferraro  43.6  37.0  56.7
1976 3 Networks Oct. 15 Dole – Mondale  35.5  25.3  43.2

Comments

Advertisement
Advertisement