Most Americans Didn't Care Enough to Watch the Democratic Debates, Poll Finds

Democratic presidential candidates at the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Two weeks ago, 20 candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination took part in two four-hour debates. The vast majority of Americans didn’t care enough to watch them live, and only 10 percent of Americans watched them from start to finish, according to a new poll from the Job Creators Network and


The poll, which surveyed 1,066 U.S. adults July 1-2, asked Americans, “Last week, the Democratic presidential candidates took part in two debates that each lasted two hours. How much of the debates did you watch live?”

Only 10 percent said they watched “every minute both nights for a total of four hours each night,” while 12 percent chose “most of the four hours watched live.” Another 15 percent said they watched “less than half.”

Another 14 percent said, “I didn’t watch it live, but saw highlights online and in the news,” while 9 percent said, “I didn’t watch it live, but read news stories about it.” By far the largest segment of Americans (40 percent) said, “I didn’t watch any of it.” By choosing this option, they suggested that they had neither seen debate highlights nor read news stories on it.

In total, 63 percent of Americans said they couldn’t be bothered to watch the first Democratic debates live, while only 37 percent of Americans turned on the debates at some point on at least one of those two nights. Only 22 percent said they watched all or most of the debates.


In other words, more than three-quarters of Americans (78 percent) said they couldn’t be bothered to watch more than half of the debates.

Few television shows gain these kinds of ratings, but the debates are a key civic event. The fact that the vast majority of Americans could not be bothered to tune in speaks volumes.

Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.


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