That’s much lower than the kickoff to the 2016 election cycle, which of course had the Donald Trump factor. However, it did fare better than the debates leading up to the 2008 and 2012 presidential elections.
The first primary debate in August 2015, featuring Trump and nine other top Republican candidates, scored 24 million total viewers on Fox News. CNN’s Democratic version in October landed 15.8 million viewers. Broadcast’s first turn, a Democratic debate in November 2015, drew 8.6 million.
Also Read: Democratic Debate's 5 Breakout Moments: From Mic Issues to Beto and Booker's Dueling Spanish
Wednesday’s debate was easily the most-watched program on television of the night. In the key news demo of adults 25-54, the debate averaged 4.3 million viewers across all three networks. Among adults under 50, the number was 3.7 million.