Thursday night’s Fox News/Google GOP Debate attracted better ratings than candidate Donald Trump’s counter-event and the previous Jan. 14 Republican presidential debate on Fox Business that featured the billionaire real estate investor and reality TV star.
Donald Trump, upset over a sarcastically-toned Fox News press release, opted not to participate in last night’s debate and instead hosted his own fundraiser for veterans in Des Moines, Iowa. Portions of Trump’s event appeared on MSNBC and CNN, as well as on many online streaming platforms.
Prior to the debate, Donald Trump’s campaign manager Corey Lewandowski had predicted that the Fox News event without the celebrity candidate would only be seen by “1 or 2 million people.”
According to CNN Money, the main stage portion of Thursday night’s debate on Fox News drew in 12.5 million viewers. The previous Republican presidential debate on Fox Business attracted 11 million viewers. MSNBC and CNN reported a combined 2.7 million person viewership during Trump’s fundraiser for veterans.
Though last night’s debate beat out the previous contest, it was the second-lowest rated GOP debate of the 2016 campaign season.
U.S. Senator from Kentucky and GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul was absent from the Jan. 14 Fox Business debate due to a boycott inspired by the network’s decision to push him from the debate’s main stage to its undercard. Sen. Paul did however participate in Thursday night’s Fox News debate after a surge in Iowa polling caused him to qualify for its main stage.
Though the stats on how many viewers live-streamed the events online are unavailable, Google search records show that those who searched for “debate live stream” outnumbered searchers looking for “Trump live stream” by 170 percent.
CBS News notes that Donald Trump said that his event raised $6 million for veterans, including $1 million that he donated himself.
Fox News and Fox Business executive vice president of ad sales Paul Rittenberg told The Wall Street Journal that the network did not lose money over Trump’s withdrawal from Thursday’s debate.
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