Donald Trump was wrong: Ratings for Tuesday night’s first Democratic debate were anything but low. An impressive 15.3 million viewers tuned in to CNN’s Anderson Cooper–moderated event, easily making it the most-watched Democratic primary debate ever, the network said. (Previous record: the April 2008 Philadelphia debate on ABC, which averaged 10.7 million viewers). Hillary Clinton vs. Bernie Sanders vs. the Other Three Guys debate viewership also more than than tripled the 4.8 million who watched CNN’s November 2007 Las Vegas debate, the first official showdown of the 2008 cycle. It also easily bested the 8.3 million for CNN’s January 2008 Democratic debate, which came later in the season.
Trump will no doubt play up the fact that the Democrats didn’t come close to reaching the stratospheric heights of the first two GOP debates, both of which averaged more than 23 million rubberneckers and/or viewers. But it should be noted that both Republican events took place in the summer, without competition from a slew of first-run broadcast-TV programming. The two main Democratic contenders may not have the reality-TV star appeal, it’s clear that The Hill and Bern Show has plenty of fans, too.