Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz joked about Republicans having a debate on Super Bowl weekend — in a thinly veiled attack against those who have criticized the Democratic leadership for scheduling debates on weekends to limit viewership and, in effect, protect Hillary Clinton from making a widely televised blunder.
Hmmm, wondering why @GOP trying to hide their #GOPdebate on the Saturday of #SuperBowl weekend no less?!— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) February 6, 2016
Wasserman Schultz later clarified she was only pointing out that both parties schedule debates on weekends, and there's nothing nefarious about it.
.@TheDemocrats debates set viewer records. Both parties' broadcast network debates on wknds. Replies to SuperBowl #GOPdebate make my point.— D Wasserman Schultz (@DWStweets) February 6, 2016
Of course, there's a difference between scheduling a couple of debates on weekends and scheduling most of them on weekends. While Republicans have had seven debates on weekdays up to this point, Democrats would only have had one weekday debate if the campaigns hadn't essentially rebelled and forced the party to schedule a debate this past Thursday, along with three other debates in the future.
Besides, this is the weekend before the New Hampshire primary election on Tuesday, which is quite different from a seemingly random weekend in November, December, or January — all months when no one officially voted.
Update: Democratic spokesperson Luis Miranda followed up on this post with an email:
[O]ur 2016 Democratic primary debate audiences are larger than the audiences for 59 out of 62 primary debates from 2008 and 2012. Only three debates at the height of the Clinton/Obama primary in 2008 scored higher. See this Medium post written in December, it was 58 out of the last 61 debates between 08 and 12, but our Sunday debate in Charleston scored a 10.2 million viewership, hence the correction above to 59/62: https://medium.com/@MiraLuisDC/democratic-debate-ratings-rank-far-ahead-of-most-primary-debates-889d8ab42ca#.c4he3kxje
Our first debate in Nevada earned 15.8 million viewers in October, surpassing the viewership of two of the Republican debates this year, and making it the sixth-biggest non-sport cable broadcast in U.S. history.
We did not ‘decide’ to hold debates on weekends. The schedule is a major coordinated effort between the national party, the candidates, and the partners: the broadcast TV station, local outlets, state parties, and other sponsors.
Lastly, 5 of our 6 original debates are with broadcast network TV: ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS and Univision. Only one is on cable TV, CNN. This makes it more likely for people without cable to tune into our debates, and we’ve partnered with social media outlets like Facebook and YouTube to draw even more viewers. For example, on the Sunday debate in Charleston 1.2 Million watched the YT livestream.