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Second Obama-Romney debate draws 65.6 million viewers

October 17, 2012|By Meg James
  • Nielsen said more than 65.6 million people watched Republican nominee Mitt Romney debate President Obama at the second presidential debate. CNN's Candy Crowley moderated.
Nielsen said more than 65.6 million people watched Republican nominee… (Justin Lane )

The second, and more combative, presidential debate between President Obama and Mitt Romney attracted an audience of more than 65.6 million people, according to Nielsen.

Ratings were up nearly 4% for Tuesday night's debate at Hofstra University in New York, moderated by Candy Crowley, when compared with the second debate in 2008 between Obama and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz). 

However, it was about 1.5 million fewer people than watched the first debate between Romney and Obama two weeks ago, when observers gave Obama low marks for his performance.

Ten television networks carried the debate live. NBC mustered the largest crowd with more than 13.8 million viewers. ABC News, part of the Walt Disney Co., had the second-most-popular telecast with 12.5 million viewers.

Fox News Channel was third with 11.1 million viewers, easily blowing away other cable news channels and CBS, which attracted 8.9 million viewers. Fox News surpassed its ratings totals from the two previous debates this season. The channel, owned by News Corp., also matched its record set during the 2008 debate between former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and then Sen. Joe Biden. 

CNN attracted 5.8 million viewers Tuesday, and MSNBC had 4.9 million.

Among the age breakdowns, more than 30 million viewers over age 55 watched, according to Nielsen.  The debate was watched by more than 19 million adults ages 35 to 54 and 11.2 million viewers ages 18 to 34.

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