Last night, Allahpundit disagreed with the idea that Hillary Clinton was imploding after a ten-day gaffe-fest on topics from her own wealth to the relative brutality of American politics. Perhaps it’s more accurate to ask whether her public persona is simply deflating. If the book and the media tour was a trial balloon for a presidential run, then the trial balloon is at least seriously sagging.
Take the book sales of Hard Choices. On Monday, we had some preliminary and indirect numbers, but last night The Daily Beast’s Jason Pinter got the hard data from Nielsen Bookscan, which represents 70-80% of all retail hard-copy book sales in the US, according to Pinter. Despite the $14 million advance and a media tour that almost no author gets, Hard Choices came in second place to the eighth in a series of fiction novels:
Based on its first week Bookscan numbers, the commercial reception for Hard Choices has been decidedly underwhelming: in its first week it sold just 85,721 print copies, compared to the 500k+ of Living History, and fewer than the week’s bestselling fiction title, Written In My Heart’s Own Blood, the latest ‘Outlander’ novel from Diana Gabaldon, which sold 88,751 copies (with no town hall).
Other political memoirs of this level over the past decade sold more than a million copies, but as Pinter points out, those were also first memoirs (including Hillary’s Living History). There is plenty of data that shows that second books do significantly worse than debuts. On the other hand, the anticipation for this release was so high that Simon & Schuster paid that ridiculous $14 million bonus to publish it, and every major network turned their Hillary interview into rock-star events. And the book still couldn’t outsell Gabaldon’s eighth book in its first week.
Speaking of rock-star events, how did the ratings look for these highly-promoted, much-ballyhooed interviews with Hillary? Her first interview on ABC with Diane Sawyer drew 6.5 million and won the Monday time slot, even though Variety reports that “it didn’t do much demo-wise.” It came in 12th for the week, with three NBA games, two NCIS episodes, 60 Minutes, Game of Thrones, and The Blue Bloods and Night Shift all landing ahead of Hillary’s interview. (It did beat the Dateline retrospective on OJ Simpson by three slots, however.)
On the cable nets, Hillary’s tour was a bust:
Beginning with CNN, the 5 p.m. hour averaged 115K viewers in the 25-54 demo and 521K total viewers. That put it barely ahead of MSNBC’s The Ed Show, which had 105K in the demo and 506K total viewers. Meanwhile, Fox’s The Five led the time slot with 336K in the demo and 1.876M total viewers.
When CNN re-aired the interview at 9 p.m. its number increased slightly to 146K in the demo and593K in the demo. While those were the best ratings CNN had all night, it still put them in third place for the hour behind Fox’s The Kelly File (377K in the demo, 2.126M total) and MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show (168K in the demo, 918K total).
Relatively speaking, things did not look all that much better for Fox. That network split its Clinton interview between the last 15 minutes of Special Report with Bret Baier at 6 p.m. and the first 15 minutes of On the Record with Greta Van Susteren at 7 p.m. The first hour averaged 271K in the demo and 1.779M total viewers, which represented a nearly 20% drop in the demo compared to The Five an hour earlier.
When Greta Van Susteren‘s 7 p.m. show began mid-interview, the network clocked another drop, this time to 264K in the demo and 1.751M total viewers. When The O’Reilly Factor began at 8 p.m., Fox’s numbers reliably jumped back up to 413K in the demo and 2.415M total viewers.
Mediaite’s Matt Wilstein reaches the obvious conclusion:
Unfortunately for Clinton, this could be an indication that Hillary-fatigue has set in even among those Americans who spend their afternoons watching cable news. While Clinton’s first major interview withDiane Sawyer last week drew 6.1 million viewers on network TV, cable news couldn’t come close.
As for that book she’s been dutifully promoting, sales show some signs of flagging as well. While Hard Choices debuted at #2 overall on Amazon, it has since dropped to #5 behind a book about a 10-day green smoothie juice cleanse.
As trial balloons go, this one barely got off the ground. Maybe that should have Democrats — and the Clintons — making other plans for 2016.