Vice President Mike Pence-Harris will go down as the second-highest-rated vice-presidential debate of all time, eclipsing the numbers for the vice-presidential debate between Sarah Palin and Joe Biden in 2008, according to data obtained by Politico.
It aired at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 4, and drew 58.6 million people in three-network coverage across 180 broadcast and cable stations.
That makes Pence-Harris a relatively big hit for the networks, which are paying at least $100,000 for the public-viewing rights to the debate — a price tag that is often doubled during big political contests.
And in fact, this kind of debate has gone relatively unremarked on the news cycle — unlike the raucous faceoff between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton in July. That generated the fourth-highest TV rating in history, behind only the debates between Trump and Clinton, a George W. Bush-John Kerry faceoff in 2004 and a 2013 Obama-Joe Biden match-up.
Another reliable sign that television viewers appreciated the debate: Pence scored about 50 percent higher in TV ratings than his 2016 running mate, Trump. Pence’s performance surpassed Trump’s performance against Clinton by 50 percent; that was also a higher percentage than that Trump put up against Hillary Clinton in 2016.