Ratings drop to 55M for final Trump-Biden debate

More than 55 million viewers tuned in for the second and final presidential debate between President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump PACs brought in over M for the first half of 2021 Chicago owes Trump M tax refund, state's attorney mounts legal challenge Biden hits resistance from unions on vaccine requirement MORE and Democratic nominee Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE on Thursday night, according to overnight ratings data by Nielsen Media Research.

The 55 million watching the comparatively civil event in Nashville marked a considerable decline from the first debate between the two last month, when more than 73 million tuned in.

Fox News led all broadcast and cable networks with 14.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen.


ABC finished second with 10.8 million total viewers, followed by NBC with 10.2 million. CNN was fourth with 7.2 million viewers, followed by MSNBC's 6.7 million and CBS's 5.5 million. 

In the 25- to 54-year-old demographic sought by advertisers, Fox News delivered 4.2 million viewers, followed by NBC with 3.9 million. ABC was fourth with 3.85 million, followed by CNN's 2.85 million and MSNBC's 1.5 million. 

For context, the final 2016 debate between Donald Trump and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonClintons, Stacey Abrams meeting Texas Democrats Biden says Russia spreading misinformation ahead of 2022 elections Highest-ranking GOP assemblyman in WI against another audit of 2020 vote MORE drew 73.2 million viewers. 

In 2012, the third debate between then-President Obama and GOP nominee Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyThe Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Facebook - US gymnast wins all-around gold as Simone Biles cheers from the stands The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - A huge win for Biden, centrist senators The 17 Republicans who voted to advance the Senate infrastructure bill MORE drew 59.2 million viewers. 

Biden leads Trump in the RealClearPolitics index of polls in key states Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, North Carolina, Florida and Arizona by 3.8 percent. 

On this day in 2016, Clinton led Trump by the same amount, 3.8 percent, in the same battleground states before going on to lose the election. Biden, however, has a larger lead than Clinton held in national polls, as well as a substantial funding advantage over Trump.