Response: Obama’s Ratings

Per my post on Obama’s press conference ratings, commenter Dave writes: “I guess “viewership dip” is one way to report it — “massive audience” would be another.  So would “one of the most watched news events of the year so far.” “

There has been almost knee jerk reaction to report anything that shows a change in the president’s popularity, and the ratings for his press conference are a case in point: 40 million, while lower than Obama’s previous press conference, is still very high, just not to the level the president commanded in his first weeks in office. But the fact is that his approval numbers did go up this week in the CBS News poll, even if the public is mixed on the administration’s response to AIG. What didn’t get said in the ratings report is that a dip in the press conference ratings are exactly what you would expect, as the novelty wears off and, in relative terms, the president deals with the mechanics of running the country.

As to Dave’s point as “one of the most watched news events of the year so far,” the press conference audience of 40 million actually was higher than Nielsen’s average for the inauguration, of 38 million viewers. The big caveat: Nielsen’s figure for the inaugural is an average over seven hours of coverage (in other words, a big spike for the swearing in is mitigated by the much lower viewership at other points in the day). And Nielsen’s count is of home viewing — meaning that all of those watching at work during daytime hours are not included.

On another note, much has been made of those who didn’t watch.

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