Republican National Convention Ratings – Does Viewership Mean Anything?

Chris Christie RatingsThe night that featured Chris Christie, Ann Romney, peanuts being thrown, and mean guys in cowboy hats chanting at an elderly Puerto Rican lady, was pretty much an abject failure for one voting bloc:  TV Viewers.  While the soundbites and derision of the Republican National Conventions will live on,  the number of actual live viewers on the network end of things totaled a paltry 10 Million Viewers.  Ironically, this is exactly the same number of people who think Romney is a robot and Obama is an alien, so it’s safe to say only the crazy and obsessed tuned in.  Another 7 million tuned in via cable news, with FOX not surprisingly leading the pack.

In contrast, the McCain Palin convention surpassed the Romney Ryan convention by close to 10 million  viewers.  Comparing it to earlier Republican National Conventions, though, these viewership numbers indicate very little in terms of the odds for actually winning the Presidency.  Observe:

Historical Ratings for Republican National Convention

Year Networks Households
% Homes
Telemundo, Univision (Spanish)
BET and TV One
27,700,000 * 116,011,000** 22.2%
2004 ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX 16,809,000 112,000,000 15.0%
2000 ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX 14,042,000 104,705,000 13.4%


George W. Bush won the presidency in 2000 and 2004, while McCain’s more watched RNC came with a crushing defeat the following November.  The lack of a pattern gets even more interesting when you look at the corresponding Democratic National Convention viewership:

Historical Ratings for Democratic National Convention


Year Networks Households
% Homes
Telemundo, Univision (Spanish)
BET and TV One
22,500,000 116,011,000* 19.4%
2004 ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX 15,537,000 112,000,000 13.9%
2000 ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, MSNBC, FOX 15,380,000 104,705,000 14.7%


If we counted on viewership of these things to predict the winner,  Obama would have been toast in 2008. So I guess the take away is, while these political conventions don’t seem to actually indicate anything in terms of who will win elections, they sure as heck remove a perfectly good hour of TV programming from our slate for little payoff.

NOTE:  These Numbers are subject to be updated throughout the week.  Expect a jump before the end of the week, these are numbers as of 8/29.

Sources: The Nielsen Company (1960-2004, 2008) and US Census ( 2000, 2004, 2007)

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