The first Republican debate drew 12.8 million viewers across television audiences and Fox's website. This was highlighted by the network, which said that this GOP debate was one of the most watched in recent years. It claimed that the debate, titled "Democracy 24: FOX News Republican Primary Debate," surpassed more than 70% of the primary debates prior to the last two presidential elections.
Moderated by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, the debate was watched by a total of 12,803,000 viewers, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. This figure exceeds the debate that was held in 2016 in Iowa featuring Trump as one of the top candidates. On that occasion, Just the News reported that the debate was watched by 12.5 million people.
However, this is far from the numbers achieved by the first Republican debate shown on Fox in 2015. On that occasion, Axios recalls, the event was viewed by some 24 million people.
It also falls far short of Tucker Carlson's interview with Donald Trump on X (Twitter). According to the data revealed by the platform, the interview achieved some 200 million "views." However, the data is not comparable, since to measure television audiences it is necessary for the viewer to spend 60 seconds watching the same channel, while to measure views on the social network, it is only necessary to "log in to Twitter and see a tweet," without interacting with it.
Polls say Ron DeSantis was the debate's winner
Although one of the biggest storylines was Vivek Ramaswamy, the polls say that it was not he who emerged victorious from the debate, but his opponent, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
A poll conducted by The Washington Post, FiveThirthyEight and Ipsos says that 29% of respondents believe that the winner of the debate was Ron DeSantis. The governor's team was pleased with DeSantis' performance in the debate, as his campaign's Communications Director Andrew Rome told Fox News Digital:
Last night, Ron DeSantis was the clear winner and proved that he is ready to beat Joe Biden and serve as America’s 47th president. The debate highlighted that DeSantis is the only candidate with the vision to reverse our nation’s decline and revive the American Dream.
The poll puts Vivek Ramaswamy as the second biggest winner of the night, with 26% support. Next was Nikki Haley who, according to 15% of respondents, was the winner of the Republican debate.
This is the first of a series of debates. The second will also take place on Fox on Sept. 27. It is not yet known who will participate nor at what time it will take place.