The live local rating for the final showdown between Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was right in the middle of the ratings for their two previous debates.
Wednesday’s debate had a cumulative 42.5 local rating on the 10 channels that carried it, which is higher than the rating for any Buffalo Bills game this season.
The first debate on Sept. 26 had a cumulative 48.9 rating and the second debate on Oct. 9 had a cumulative 37.1 rating.
The Oct. 9 debate was carried on the same night as a “Sunday Night Football” game on NBC between the Green Bay Packers and New York Giant, which lowered the rating here because NBC affiliate WGRZ-TV (Channel 2) carried the debate on delay in late-night.
Channel 2 was the top-rated station locally Wednesday with a 9.7 rating, with WIVB-TV (Channel 4) second with a 9.2. With Fox News host Chris Wallace moderating the debate, the 24-hour news channel that critics claim is an arm of the Republican party was third with a 7.5 rating. WKBW-TV (Channel 7) was fourth with a 5.9, with CNN (3.9), MSNBC (2.9), Fox affiliate WUTV (2.0) and PBS affiliate WNED-TV (1.0) rounding out all the stations that had higher than a 1 rating.
Wallace received high marks from media members on social media (I tweeted that he deserved props) after the debate.
While Trump once again trumpeted the easily rigged unscientific polls that declared him the winner again, CNN’s scientific poll declared Clinton the winner for the third straight debate. However, it was closer this time, 52-39 percent, perhaps partly because CNN said it skewed Democratic by a smaller margin than the previous two debates. Clinton won the first debate, 62-27 percent, and the second debate, 57-34.
Clinton scored even higher in CNN’s poll, 59-35, when debate watchers were asked who was better prepared for the presidency.
The marginal good news for Trump was that he earned a narrow victory, 23-22 percent, in the CNN poll when those watching were asked if they changed their vote. Fifty-four percent of watchers said the debate didn’t change their minds, which is better for Clinton since she has a significant lead in most national polls.
The one sporting event Wednesday that might have caused viewers to dial switch didn’t have much of a rating. The Chicago Cubs’ 10-2 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers in Game Four of the National League Championship series had a 3.1 rating on cable’s Fox Sports 1.