The third Republican presidential primary debate, hosted by NBC News, witnessed a dramatic viewership decline with just over 6 million viewers tuning in, marking the lowest audience turnout of the current campaign season and a 45% drop in viewers from the first debate.
The drop in Wednesday’s debate was blamed on RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, with GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy criticizing her handling of the forums and calling for her to resign.
“We’ve got [NBC’s] Kristen Welker here,” Ramaswamy said during the debate.
“Do you think the Democrats would actually hire [Fox News host] Greg Gutfeld to host a Democratic debate? They wouldn’t do it.”
McDaniel organized the presidential debates and reportedly offended former President Donald Trump by giving Fox News control over the first two forums.
She has awarded the primary debate hosting position for the third and fourth debates to liberal media outlets, including NBC.
Ramaswamy made waves challenging McDaniels during the debate.
“For that matter, Ronna, if you want to come on stage tonight, you want to look the GOP voters in the eye and tell them you resign, I will turn over [and] yield my time to you,” he said.
“Think about who’s moderating this debate. This should be Tucker Carlson, Joe Rogan, and Elon Musk. We’d have 10 times the viewership asking questions that GOP primary voters actually care about.”
NBC’s debate attracted 6.8 million viewers on linear television, with 1.3 million falling within the 25-54 age demographic, according to Nielsen Media Research.
Wednesday night’s audience figure was lower than the 9 million viewers who tuned in for the second GOP presidential primary debate in September, which was broadcast on Fox Business and Fox News.
The third GOP debate was also significantly lower than the nearly 12.8 million who watched the inaugural debate on Fox News back in August — as that event saw a 50% decline in ratings from the first debate of the 2016 campaign.
With then-candidate Trump attending, the Fox News 2015 prime-time GOP debate drew a record 24 million viewers.
Ramaswamy urged McDaniel to step down during this week’s GOP debate, blaming her for recent party losses.
“Let’s speak the truth,” Ramaswamy said. “Since Ronna McDaniel took over as chairwoman of the RNC in 2017, we have lost in 2018, 2020, 2022, no red wave that never came. We got trounced last night in 2023. And I think that we have to have accountability in our party.”
Ramaswamy’s call for McDaniel’s resignation drew strong grassroots support.
“What, exactly, does Ronna McDaniel do besides lose? The only thing she SHOULD do is RESIGN. Effective immediately,” media contributor Monica Crowley wrote on social media platform X on Tuesday.
“If Matt Gaetz can vacate Kevin McCarthy, I think it’s time for President Trump to vacate Ronna McDaniel,” social media maven Rogan O’Handley wrote on his DC_Draino X account Wednesday. “Only he has the power to do it at this point.”
The fourth GOP primary debate is scheduled for Dec. 6 in Alabama, shifting from mainstream media to liberal cable.
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