clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Hillary Clinton's convention had higher ratings than Trump's — except for the one night it mattered most

Trump beats Clinton in acceptance speech ratings and viewership
Despite Clinton beating Trump every other night of the convention when it came to ratings, more Americans watched Trump’s acceptance speech than her history making moment.
Getty Images

On Thursday night, Hillary Clinton made history by becoming the first woman to accept the presidential nomination of any major political party in the US. But according to Nielsen’s ratings data, more Americans tuned in to watch Donald Trump’s acceptance speech than Clinton’s.

Trump attracted 32.2 million viewers while only 29.8 million viewers watched Clinton. This is significantly lower than the 38.4 million viewers who watched Barack Obama’s historic 2008 acceptance speech, but more than the 25.9 million viewers who watched Obama in 2012.

Chart showing Nielsen ratings data of the RNC and DNC

Many anticipated that Clinton’s acceptance speech would garner more viewers than Trump because every other night of the Democratic National Convention had higher ratings than the associated night of the Republican National Convention.

According to CNN, Nielsen’s data does not incorporate live streaming or web video clips, so there could be many more viewers who watched Clinton’s speech that were not captured in the final totals. But the same would be true of those who watched Trump’s speech online last week.

It’s hard to know if the higher TV ratings will have any impact on the polls, or if more people simply wanted to turn out for the speaker who has been running the abnormal campaign.

Election forecasts like FiveThirtyEight and the New York Times show Clinton leading Trump in the polls, but according to the Now-cast on FiveThirtyEight, it is still a tight race. Even though FiveThirtyEight warns polling immediately after conventions is not terribly accurate, it is, nonetheless, not the triumphant ending note the DNC would have hoped for.

On the other hand, for a candidate who loves to boast about polling and ratings data as much as Donald Trump does, this must be heartening – even if it may mean nothing at all.