Jonathan Tobin writing at the online version of Commentary Magazine:
It turns out ratings for this debate went through the roof. The Nielson ratings agency reports that 67.2 million Americans watched the debate on television at home. That’s the second highest audience for such a debate in history (number one was the first debate between Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter in 1980). And that doesn’t count those who either watched it in airports, hotels, bars or other venues or the many millions who watched it on their computers, tablets or phones. In other words, the president picked the wrong night to mail in his performance.
To put the 67 million viewers Wednesday night in perspective, the 2008 presidential election set a record with 127 million total votes cast. Slightly more than half the number who voted in 2008 watched the Romney/Obama debate. The Super Bowl of late has attracted 2008 election numbers, with over 120 million viewers. On its best night American Idol [a show I’ve never seen] got 21 million viewers. On its best day this blog had …hits….oh, never mind.
The astounding high ratings argue that this debate will have a greater impact on public opinion than normally has happened after previous presidential debates. Nixon was widely believed to have lost the debate with John F. Kennedy and yet he got the most votes in the 1960 election. Oh yeah, Kennedy became president anyway because the Chicago machine of Mayor Richard Daily delivered the votes of enough dead people to give Kennedy Illinois’ electoral votes and enough Texas Democrats voted multiple times to give Kennedy the electoral votes of Texas. Even with the fraudulent voting Kennedy won only one-half of 1% more votes that Nixon overall.
The point here is not to dwell on history but to show that even though the country gave Kennedy a decisive win in the debate, an honest election would not have given him the presidency. The number of people watching last Wednesday’s debate was so high that arguably it may be different and have a real effect on the outcome of the election on November 6th. At least this much can be said, if Obama had skunked Romney the way Romney did Obama, the election could be said to be over already.