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Clinton-Trump debate draws close to Super Bowl viewership locally

The first debate between Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump Monday night came close to a Super Bowl rating in Western New York.

The 10 broadcast and cable channels carrying it had a combined rating of 48.3 from 9 pm. to 10:45 p.m., which was about the time it ended.

By comparison, Denver’s victory over Carolina in the 2016 Super Bowl had a local rating of 55.7 on WIVB-TV, the local CBS affiliate. However, that was the highest rating ever for the Super Bowl in WNY since meters registered them. The game usually received a rating in the low 50s in recent years.

The debate rating was about seven times higher than the rating for the Monday Night Football game on ESPN. Atlanta’s 45-32 victory over New Orleans had a 6.9 rating for the entire game and a 6.5 rating for the period in which it competed against the debate.

The Clinton-Trump debate rating also was about 20 percent higher than combined 40.1 rating for the first debate between President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney on Oct. 3, 2012.

Each rating point in Western New York represents about 6,000 households, which means about 288,000 households were tuned in to Monday's debate.

Here is the local scorecard for the debate:

Channel  2 (NBC): 13.5

Channel 4 (CBS): 10.6

Channel 7 (ABC): 6.8

Channel 29 (Fox): 2.3

Channel 17 (PBS): 2.2

Fox News: 6.0

CNN: 4.1

MSNBC: 2.5

C-Span 0.0

Univision: 0.3

A reminder: Frontline’s biographical study of the candidates, “The Choice 2016,” airs at 9 tonight on WNED-TV.

Trump said almost immediately after the debate ended that online polls declared him the debate winner before any of them had been released. Many analysts begged to differ, proclaiming Clinton the decisive winner at the same time they doubted it would hurt Trump with his base.

Declaring victory after a loss is in keeping with the Trump strategy that Tony Schwartz, the ghostwriter for a Trump book ("The Art of the Deal") who has become one of his sharpest critics, explained about the settlement of a 1973 racial discrimination case brought by the federal government  against Trump and his father.

“This is a classic example of where Trump begins to demonstrate something he talks about all the time today, which is he’s a counter puncher,” says Schwartz, according to the program’s transcript. “So somebody comes after him and says that he’s done something nefarious and horrible, and he just goes back at them with guns blazing. You know, boom, boom, boom! And admits nothing. Never admit anything. Never say you made a mistake. Just keep coming. And if you lose, declare victory. And that’s exactly what happened there, he lost as clearly as you can lose but he loudly proclaimed his victory.”


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