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The first Republican primary debate hosted by Fox News on Wednesday brought in 12.8 million total viewers, according to data released by Nielsen.
The viewership for the Fox News debate significantly surpassed expectations for the network, nabbing 2.82 million viewers in the 25-54 demographic.
In 2015, the network drew a record 24 million viewers for their coverage of the first Republican presidential debate. However, Donald Trump was in attendance and fresh onto the political scene, which served to generate a spectacle.
Trump opted to skip the debate this time around, instead airing an interview with former Fox News host Tucker Carlson on X (formerly known as Twitter). The former president touted the interview garnering 100 million views on Wednesday night, but X viewership metrics count even those who just scroll past the interview. Those numbers are simply not comparable to debate viewership.
The debate was co-moderated by Fox News hosts Martha MacCallum and Bret Baier.
The candidates in attendance at the debate included former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, former Vice President Mike Pence, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, former Ambassador Nikki Haley, North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum and former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
The second debate of the Republican primary cycle will be hosted by Fox Business on Sept. 27 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley.
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