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TV Ratings: First CNN Democratic Debate Draws 8.7 Million Viewers

Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, which turned into an everyone versus Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren scrap, drew around 8.7 million viewers for CNN, according to Nielsen preliminary figures.

That represents a substantial 43% decrease on NBC’s first debate which aired to 15.3 million viewers on June 26. However, it’s worth noting the previous debate also aired on MSNBC and Telemundo. The second NBC debate on June 27 was watched by nearly 18.1 million viewers, a tally which it seems unlikely the second round on CNN will overtake. The figure for last night’s debate, which sits at around 2.4 million viewers in the 25-54 demographic, is likely to change as more accurate measurements come in later in the day.

None of the debates so far in this cycle have come near to the 24 million figure posted by Donald Trump’s first debate on Fox News in August of 2015. However, the feisty affair on June 27 was the most-watched Democratic primary debate in history, easily topping the first Democratic debate of the 2016 cycle, which stood at 15.7 million viewers on CNN.

At last night’s debate, Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Pete Buttigieg scored the most talking time, according to NPR’s calculation. The debate lasted more-than-two-and-a-half-hours and covered issues such as health care, gun violence, immigration, trade, education and racism.

Last night’s debate featured 10 candidates in total: Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke, Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar, author Marianne Williamson, former Maryland Rep. John Delaney, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan, and Montana Gov. Steve Bullock.

A second round of debates will occur tonight in Detroit, featuring another 10 more candidates, including other frontrunners Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

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