In the ratings race, Joe Biden’s town hall wins the popular vote

L to R: Joe Biden with George Stephanopoulus (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) and Donald Trump (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

L to R: Joe Biden with George Stephanopoulus (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) and Donald Trump (Brendan Smialowski / AFP)
Graphic: The A.V. Club

Remember when TV ratings mattered very little in the grand scheme of presidential elections, especially when it came to the particularly terrifying ones? Yeah, we don’t either. Considering that 2020 is approximately 37 years long, maybe we’ve always clung to every opportunity to stick it to the guy who desperately hoists the validity of others (and himself) on these largely subjective, fairly incomprehensible numbers that are pretty insignificant strokes within the far bigger picture. Oh well. Let’s laugh at how the ratings for Joe Biden’s town hall trounced those for Donald Trump’s by about a million, just to see if we can still feel something. Anything.

According to CNN, Biden’s town hall, which aired Thursday night and only on ABC, garnered 14.1 million viewers according to Nielsen, a number that industry experts weren’t prepared to see for a debate-less event. Meanwhile, the Trump town hall only managed to earn a total of 13.1 million viewers in a simulcast between NBC, MSNBC, and CNBC. As per usual, these metrics don’t account for those who may have been streaming the events online, via phones, or watched on a delay.

That, of course, didn’t stop the celebratory gloating from Biden’s camp as Biden’s national press secretary TJ Ducklo tweeted, “Turns out more people last night were interested in watching a leader with a clear plan to get this pandemic under control and Americans back to work, than the same combative, chaotic liar whose incompetence got us into this mess—regardless of how many channels he was on.” While some wait to see if Trump will remain true to form and address the ratings blip within a capslocked Twitter rant, he is currently tweeting videos from his Florida rally, where his maskless form was seemingly welcomed with open, reckless arms.

The town halls aired opposite of each other—within the same timeslot—after Trump refused to participate in a second debate, which was to occur virtually after the former reality TV host tested positive for COVID-19. Many implored NBC to move Trump’s town hall to a different time. NBC stood firmly by it’s decision and while we could wonder whether or not the higher-ups feel like the choice was worth it, the town hall still managed to perform far better than anything else that might have aired in its place.

Anyway, consider voting.

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