It’s a safe bet Donald Trump will be bragging about his numbers—he faced off with his two main rivals for the Republican nomination, and he scored an easy victory.
It was a head-to-head television showdown Wednesday night, with Fox News Channel’s live town hall featuring the former president drawing 4.335 million viewers between 9 and 10 p.m. ET, well ahead of the CNN debate with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, which drew a total audience of 2.587 million viewers.
The Trump town hall also led among viewers 25-54, the key demographic most valued by advertisers, delivering a total audience of 553,000 viewers, compared to CNN’s 478,000 viewers.
The early overnight ratings data compiled by Nielsen will rise once final numbers are in—for CNN and Fox—but the viewership data gives us a glimpse of where Republican voters’ attention is focused as the 2024 campaign prepares for the Iowa caucuses, which are now just four days away. Trump reportedly demanded that his town hall on Fox air in direct competition with Wednesday night’s CNN debate.
Trump has ignored each of the Republican primary debates held so far, and has held a commanding lead in most national polls. But a survey of New Hampshire voters released Thursday, however, showed Trump’s lead dropping by 5 percentage points, to 44 percent among Republican primary voters, down from 49 percent in November.
Haley, meanwhile, saw her support jump to 28 percent, up from 18 percent in November, while DeSantis was unchanged at 7 percent.
On his Truth Social platform, Trump shared a series of clips from his Fox town hall, saying it received “wonderful reviews.” The live session served Trump’s objectives of, as the New York Times
As DeSantis and Haley battled on CNN, Trump had his eyes on the general election, telling Fox viewers that he had decided on a running mate—though he wouldn’t share the name. “I can’t tell you that really,” he said. “I mean, I know who it’s going to be.”
Between 7 and 11 p.m. ET, Fox News Channel dominated with a total audience of 3.073 million viewers. CNN was second with 1.705 million viewers, and MSNBC was third with 1.438 million viewers. In the key demo the race was much closer, with Fox News drawing 362,000 viewers to CNN’s 336,000 viewers. MSNBC was third with 135,000 viewers.