Whew: Hillary's convention speech (probably) drew a smaller TV audience than Trump's

Thank God. I think Trump can handle losing the election, but losing a ratings battle to a dial tone like Hillary Clinton might have broken the guy. He’ll be okay now.

The downside: He’ll be mentioning his ratings win not just every day until Election Day but likely every day for the rest of his life.

Clinton’s Thursday night acceptance speech at the DNC averaged 28 million viewers across the six biggest cable and broadcast channels.

Trump’s speech at the RNC one week earlier averaged 30 million viewers across the same channels…

CNN was by far the highest-rated channel on Thursday, averaging 7.5 million viewers during Clinton’s speech. MSNBC was #2 with 5.3 million viewers. NBC was #3 with 4.5 million.

These are the early numbers. The final figures later today will be slightly better, but probably not enough to erase Trump’s advantage. All three previous nights of the Democratic convention outdrew their Republican counterparts, by the way, and Hillary outdrew Trump last night on CNN and MSNBC. Trump’s margin of ratings victory comes entirely from Fox News, which blew the roof off last Thursday for his speech with 9.3 million viewers but clocked just three million yesterday for Clinton. Did Fox get a big jump for Trump because right-wingers who were already voting for him decided to tune into their favorite network to watch his speech? Or was it a more politically mixed audience that gravitated to Fox last week on the assumption that the Republican news channel is naturally the place to watch the Republican nominee speak? The answer to that question would give us a clue about Trump’s crossover appeal in November.

Obama’s 2012 speech outdrew both Trump and Clinton, but if you missed last week’s post about convention ratings over time, read that for all of the caveats about shrinking ratings in an age with multifarious media options. Given Trump’s celebrity and the curiosity factor surrounding him, it’s arguably no surprise that he’d draw more of an audience than a ho-hum Democratic nominee. But Hillary’s no ordinary nominee: She’s the first woman major-party nominee in history. The fact that she couldn’t bring out enough viewers to top him despite having a historic storyline to help boost interest is a comment on how “meh” she is to the public. Apart from her husband she’s the biggest known quantity in American politics, the ultimate rerun. And like I said in last night’s convention thread, who wants to watch a rerun when there’s so much else on TV — even when that rerun is a Very Special Episode?

But that’s the predictable anti-Hillary view. If you’re a lefty straining to see the glass half-full, you could plausibly claim a moral victory in drawing numbers comparable to Trump’s given that he’s a born showman and she’s never had a moment of charisma in her life. In fact, remember back in April when Trump was chirping about how boring conventions tend to be and how he wanted to make Cleveland more of a “showbiz” production? A true freak-show spectacle last week would have been dicey for the party but it would have meant big “what the hell’s going to happen next?” ratings. In the end Trump took the same approach to the convention as he took to his VP pick, playing it safe with something bland and predictable rather than rolling the dice. The NYT asked him about that today. What happened to “showbiz”? Quote:

In Cleveland, an important endorser, Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, started speaking after the broadcast networks had already moved on to local news (Republican Party officials argued Thursday that they should have shown her instead); Mr. Trump called in to “The O’Reilly Factor” while Patricia Smith was speaking emotionally onstage about her son’s death in the Benghazi attack; and one night’s program ended prematurely, leaving precious prime-time minutes unused.

Asked about the differences, Mr. Trump said he could not speak to them with much specificity, because “I didn’t produce our show — I just showed up for the final speech on Thursday.”

From “showbiz!” to “talk to Reince.” Heh.

Via Red State, here’s the CNN insta-poll after Hillary’s speech last night. She did win this battle with Trump, with 71 percent saying they were “very positive” about her speech versus 57 percent who said that last week of Trump’s. Is that a poll of people who watched the speech, though, or is it a poll of people who watched it on CNN? As noted above, it may be that liberals are seeking out CNN and MSNBC for convention coverage because they don’t trust Fox; if so, then of course CNN’s audience will be more enthusiastic about Hillary’s speech than Trump’s. On the other hand, if it’s a poll of viewers across various networks and if (as everyone expects) Trump drew more casual viewers who wanted to watch out of sheer curiosity, it’d stand to reason that there’d be more people watching his speech who didn’t agree with him politically. In other words, you can explain these numbers as the result of an audience that’s unusually homogeneous or unusually heterogeneous. I wonder which it is.

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