Debate viewership tally so far: 12 GOP debates, 186.3m viewers (15.53m per debate), 9 Dem debates, 72.03m viewers, (8m per debate). As of March 10th, the Republicans have concluded their 12 debates. The final total audience size for the 12 GOP debates is 186.3m viewers. At their current rate, the 10 Democratic debates are on track to be watched by a total of 80m viewers, falling short by at least 106m viwers.At 10.2m viewers, NBC's 4th Democratic debate was the second most watched Democratic debate, but still came in lower than any of the 6 GOP debates so far, including their two on a little watched cable network, Fox Business. The 1/25/16 CNN Democratic "Townhall" drew 3.2m viewers, bringing in less than half the audience of the previously lowest watched major candidate event of the 2016 cycle. (Updated on Tuesday 4/19/16)
In 2008, 16 of the 26 Democratic debates had enough viewers to be rated. Those 16 debates were seen by a total of more than 75m people. So even though the Democratic debates this cycle have received more viewers per debate, the total viewership of the 10 debates will come in only about 16.5m more than what the Democratic debates achieved in 2008, and just a little under half of what the Rs are getting this cycle with their better debate approach. Very hard to spin any of this as positive for Democrats, or "maximizing" opportunities. (Updated on Friday 2/12/16)
Four More Debates Added - The Washington Post is reporting that the DNC and Sanders and Clinton campaigns have reached a deal to add four more debates in NH, MI, PA and CA. This will bring the Democratic debate total for the 2016 cycle to 10. It is also consistent with our recommended changes, which advocated one more debate before IA/NH and more debates after February. We are obviously pleased with this development, but hope in the future a better schedule would not force candidates in the most important part of the campaign to be spending time negotiating over debates rather than reaching voters. We will be updating this "backgrounder" over the next few days. (Updated on Wednesday 2/3/16)
Full Debate Schedules - Here's a link to complete debate schedule, including the 12 GOP debates and the 10 scheduled by the DNC. Note that in the first three months of 2016, the RNC has 7 debates scheduled, the DNC 4, 1 of which will be conducted in Spanish on the Spanish-language network Univision.
Some in Clinton camp now regret limited debate schedule - An article by Patrick Healy in The New York Times Saturday morning, January 16th, contains the following:
"Several Clinton advisers are also regretting that they did not push for more debates, where Mrs. Clinton excels, to more skillfully marginalize Mr. Sanders over his Senate votes in support of the gun industry and the enormous costs and likely tax increases tied to his big-government agenda.
Instead, Mrs. Clinton, who entered the race as the prohibitive favorite, played it safe, opting for as few debates as possible, which were scheduled at times when viewership was likely to be low — like this Sunday at 9 p.m. on a long holiday weekend."
Oct 23rd, 2015 - NDN has joined the chorus calling for a better Democratic debate schedule, writing: "There are too few debates, too many are on weekends or holidays when viewership is much lower, and there aren’t enough close to when the most consequential voting will take place."
A few stats: in 2007/8 Democrats had 26 debates, this cycle they will have 10. The RNC has scheduled 12 debates, the Democrats will have 7 with one shown only on a Spanish language network. In the all important Jan thru March window next year, when close to 60% of eligible voters will vote, the GOP will have 7 English language debates and the Democrats 3. All in all the DNC will have 3 English language debates in prime time during the week for the entire nominating process, the RNC could have as many as 10.
If the current debate viewing level for each party (16.61m vs 10.63m) holds through the remaining debates, the RNC's candidates will have a total audience of 199.32m people for their 12 debates. The Democratic candidates will be seen by just 106.3m over 10 debates. And even that number for the Democrats could be high as of the 4 remaining debates, one is in Spanish and another is with PBS, a network that simply doesnt have the reach of the commercial broadcast networks. And in a new piece Simon's finds that there is clear evidence now that this early exposure is boosting not harming the GOP field.
Regardless of the virtue of the original DNC debate strategy, the RNC has produced a far better approach that will guarantee their candidates hundreds of millions of more impressions. This gap is so large that it could sway the outcome of a very close race, and the DNC should take steps to close this gap in the weeks ahead. Simon's recent piece offers three simple steps the DNC could take today to address the problem, and suggests other things the Party could be doing to generate more interest in its candidates and emerging leaders (MSNBC forum good step, though still very limited in reach).
We've built this backgrounder with our work and the most recent and best pieces from other sources to help keep people up to date. If you agree with us that Democrats deserve a better debate schedule, join us in making your voice heard.
"The Consent of the Governed," SImon Rosenberg and Corey Cantor, NDN, 12/17/14. This analysis looks at how the decline in competitive states and races in our Federal elections is allowing far too few Americans to meaningful participate in picking their leaders, and questions whether our political system is still capable of providing "the consent of the governed."
The US's foremost academic center for the study of youth engagement in politics, Tufts University's CIRCLE, has put out a must read study looking at where this all important vote is likely to most influence the vote in 2016.
"Parties and other political groups often overlook the votes and energy of young people even where youth can have a decisive influence on the outcome of the race. CIRCLE is providing data-driven insights about the states and congressional districts where youth are posied to have a disproportionately high electoral impact in 2016."
The top ten states where the youth vote will impact the 2016 presidential election are: Iowa, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Colorado, Wisconsin, Virginia, Florida, North Carolina, and Nevada.
In Iowa, 15.7 percent of all registered voters caucused for either the Republican or Democratic Party. In New Hampshire, according to projections by New Hampshire Secretary of State William Gardner, approximately 62.3 percent of those registered to vote cast ballots in the New Hampshire Primary.
It should be noted that Iowa, with over 3.1 million people, is a more populous state than New Hampshire, where approximately 1.3 million people live.
A very smart Greg Sargent piece today in the Washington Post about lessons Democrats need to learn from Bernie Sander's remarkable campaign contains this passage:
"Democratic strategist Simon Rosenberg has suggested that Clinton, who has rolled out robust campaign finance and voting reform proposals, needs to get back to highlighting that agenda while linking it to an argument that only someone with her deep knowledge of the system can reform it in fundamental and profound ways from the inside."
You can read the piece Greg is refering to here. The key graph:
Clinton and Political Reform – One of the more puzzling elements of the 2016 campaign is why Hillary Clinton hasn’t run more aggressively on her very ambitious and thoughtful political reform agenda. I think there is an obvious way to turn her experience and understanding of the dark side of politics into a broader argument that it takes an insider to fix the system from the inside. She can not only run on her articulated plans, but could commit to suspending the foundation if she were to become the nominee and closing it if elected, leading a government wide effort to modernize the treatment of data and email in a new cyber age, tying Congressional pay to getting budgets done on time (no budget no pay), creating a minimum number of days Congress must be in session each cycle, etc. The reforms she could offer to change the system have to be biting, real, and bring about real change. While I think she is smart to hug Obama and offer continuity as a matter of core strategy, this is one area she should offer a sharper break with him. Trump, Sanders and Cruz all are offering some version of a radical overhaul of the system. She needs to join this chorus in her own way, recognizing that part of her argument – first women President – is unlikely to be sufficient.
Last week Simon sat down with conservative author Matt Lewis for a long discussion about the modernization efforts of the center-left over the past generation, and how conservatives may learn from it. It is well worth a listen.
Matt's new book, "Too Dumb to Fail," has received substantial praise from across the political spectrum. You can get a copy of your very own here.