Over 5 million people watched last Thursday’s Fox News prime-time TV debate between Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis and California’s Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom.
Hosted by Sean Hannity, the “Great Red vs. Blue State Debate” attracted just under 5 million viewers for its live broadcast, followed by an additional 700,000 via a rebroadcast. Deadline reported these figures were far ahead of competing networks MSNBC and CNN, citing data provided by Nielsen Media Research via Fox News and MSNBC.
Fox News also secured a solid win for the remaining night in terms of viewership, with close to 4 million viewers. By contrast, MSNBC and CNN only received just over 1.3 million and around half a million views, respectively.
According to Matt Wolking, strategic communications director of pro-DeSantis super PAC Never Back Down, the debate surpassed three town hall forums featuring former President Donald Trump, the New York Post reported.
However, despite accruing record viewership, the heated debate between the two governors still fell short of the three GOP primary debates, with the most recent event attracting around 7.5 million viewers on NBC streaming and digital. The earlier debates, which were hosted by the Fox Business Network and Fox News in August and September, saw between just under 10 million and close to 13 million viewers, respectively, putting it far ahead of competitors ABC, CBS, and NBC combined, by being the most-watched non-sports cable telecast of the year to date, the New York Post reported.
The upcoming fourth GOP presidential debate will be held next week and will be broadcast by NewsNation.
California and Florida Comparisons
Last week’s debate between Mr. Newsom and Mr. DeSantis was centered around drawing comparisons between California and Florida on several pertinent issues, including crime, the immigration crisis, as well as the economy and education.
The showdown between Mr. DeSantis and Mr. Newsom saw strategically prepared attacks from both sides, with the Republican governor taking aim at his Democrat counterpart over COVID-19 lockdowns in California, as well as crime, which has been spiraling out of control in the state. Meanwhile, Mr. Newson criticized Mr. DeSantis over Florida’s abortion policies and a crackdown on school reading material with subject matter deemed inappropriate for children by parents.
Mr. DeSantis also pointed at an alleged “shadow” presidential campaign that he said the California governor was running. Many see Mr. Newsom as vying to replace incumbent Democratic President Joe Biden, who is seeking reelection despite facing ongoing calls to step down amid declining popularity in recent polls.
Meanwhile, Mr. DeSantis is significantly lagging behind Republican frontrunner and former president Donald Trump.