Presidential Debate Could Be Most Watched Ever

It will also involve more people monitoring it on social media than ever before

Hofstra debate stage. REUTERS/Brian Snyder — REUTERS
Sep 26, 2016 at 4:37 PM ET

The first presidential debate is tonight, and it might be the most watched debate ever. A new survey by Deep Root Analytics says “it is likely debate viewership will be somewhere between 81 and 94 million.” The New York Times reports viewership could be as high as 100 million, or as they describe it, “Super Bowl territory.”

Even at the low end of these estimates, the debate could well be record breaking. The 1980 debate between Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, currently holds the title of highest rated presidential debate in history with over 80 million viewers.

The survey of registered voters also shed some light on how many debate viewers might be open to changing their minds. Twenty-four percent of those surveyed responded that the debates would be very or extremely important in making the decision of who to support for president. The actual percentage of those who might change their vote is somewhat lower, based on responses to a slightly different question. The survey found “only 12% of Registered Voters say they are either Extremely or Very open to changing their mind about who they support for President based on their debate performance [capitalization theirs].” The survey also found that 45 percent of undecided voters would be watching the debates, with 26 percent of them describing the debate as extremely of very important.

The survey also looked at how people will be watching the debate tonight. It found that 27 percent of registered voters will also follow the debate through social media like Twitter and Facebook, and that “among those that plan to watch all of the debate, nearly 4 out of 10 (38%) will be using social media at the same time.” This is much higher than the number of people who watched the the first 2012 presidential debate on multiple screens, which was only 11 percent.