It was supposed to be part of the relaunch of Beto O’Rourke’s fading Democratic primary campaign to recapture the empty charisma he showed while live-streaming his dental cleaning.
The hour-long town hall on CNN was more of a re-fizzle. The abysmal overnight audience ratings proved the ancient show biz adage about customers: If they don’t want to come, you can’t stop ’em.
Nielsen’s study of the total audience showed that viewers were less than excited about watching the bland ex-congressman from El Paso smile and dance around questions. The town hall’s total audience was 30 percent smaller than a normal Tuesday evening audience.
That’s enough to give the show third place in cable ratings. He drew only 714,000 viewers in a Tuesday time slot that normally gets more than a million. This while the MSNBC and Fox News competition each pulled in north of two million sets of eyes.
In fact, Robert Francis O’Rourke’s audience was only slightly better than Julian Castro’s town hall that drew 654,000 viewers. But it was notably smaller than the one that watched John Hickenlooper’s town hall in March.
You remember him, right? Well anyway, the ex-governor is way down in the list of 23 Democratic wannabe commanders-in-chief. The other day a new poll showed Joe Biden at 33 percent support among Democrats, maintaining twice as much support as the No. 2 candidate. Hickenlooper scored zero percent.
Beto has drifted down to five percent.
Such a dismal ratings outcome is likely to fuel further debate among Democrats on the value of appearing in a town hall on the top-rated Fox News. Elizabeth Warren has said, No way. But Amy Klobuchar and Pete Buttigieg both introduced themselves to a large number of viewers on Fox.
In fact, the top-rated town hall so far this cycle was Bernie Sanders’ 2.6 million draw on Fox. CNN’s best showing was Kamala Harris’ 1.96 million in January back when such events were brand new.
Beto has said he would do a town hall on Fox. The question after the CNN show is, would Fox risk its ratings dominance to have him?