Palin-Biden debate a ratings winner


Vice Presidential candidates normally get far less interest from the public that the people at the top of the ticket – but not this year. The Nielsen Company calculates, based on overnight data from 55 local meter markets, that Thursday night’s debate between VP candidates Joe Biden (D-DE) and Sarah Palin (R-AK) scored an overall 45 rating. That was much higher than the first McCain-Obama debate, which had a 31.6 rating. Nielsen estimates that 69.99 million people watched the VP debate, compared to 52.4 million for the first presidential debate. In fact, it was second only to the 80.6 million viewers who watched the one and only 1980 debate between President Jimmy Carter (D) and Republican challenger Ronald Reagan. The Palin-Biden tally walloped the previous VP debate record, set in 1984 when the first woman on a national ticket, Rep. Geraldine Ferraro (D-NY) took on incumbent Vice President George H.W. Bush (R).

The Palin-Biden debate rating was highest in Baltimore, 59.1, and lowest in Los Angeles, 34.4. Here’s a look at the 10 markets where the debate ratings were highest.

(by H.H. rating)
Market Market Rank
(by TV H.H. population)
Household Rating 
1 Baltimore 26 59.1
2 St. Louis 21 58.3
3 Boston (Manchester) 7 54.3
4 Norfolk-Portsmth-Newpt Nws 43 53.9
5 Nashville 29 53.4
6 West Palm Beach-Ft. Pierce 38 53.4
7 Kansas City 31 53.2
8 Richmond-Petersburg 58 52.1
9 Pittsburgh 23 51.9
10 Detroit 11 51.8
Source: The Nielsen Company (October 2, 2008)

To see all 55 metered markets, click here for the pdf from Nielsen’s website.