Last night’s GOP debate in New Hampshire drew just 6.25 million viewers, down from the last two debates, reports Deadline Hollywood.

ABC News’ Republican presidential debate in New Hampshire last night averaged 6.25 million total viewers, 1.4 million of them in the 28-49 demographic and 1.73 million in 25-54. That was good enough for third place among the GOP debates so far this campaign behind the two most recent ones: ABC News’ December 10 debate (7.57 million total viewers) and Fox News’ December 15 debate (6.71 million). ABC points out that last night’s debate, anchored by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos, aired against the late NFL wildcard game, which pitted Detroit vs. New Orleans.

Note that the ABC debate had to compete with the NFL wildcard game — not with the college football national championships, as the GOP candidates themselves seemed to think. Somebody needs to send a memo to our good men running for president to update them on the world of sports, which, incidentally, is a realm from which they could learn a thing or two about leadership. (Think John Wooden.)

True, third place among 14 debates is still somewhat respectable, and, yes, the debate was on a Saturday night, but, with the primaries actually underway, interest should be increasing not waning. This morning’s debate, which by Guy Benson’s account was a sharper affair than last night’s MSM massacre of the not-Mitts, likely drew still fewer viewers than the ABC debate.

Interest will continue to decline if every debate makes the candidates worse than they looked before it began. If the candidates want to perform well in debates moderated by hostile former Democratic operatives, then they need to uniformly adopt a Newt-like strategy to turn questions against the moderators. My favorite moment of last night remains the moment in which Gingrich reminded his snide questioners that the gay adoption issue runs in two directions; it’s a religious liberty issue as well as a supposed civil rights issue. The GOP needs more of that.

Thankfully, we are at least more than halfway through the primary debates. Just eight more to go!