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Third Debate Beats First in TV Ratings

Early ratings suggest that more people watched the final presidential debate than the first.

That is striking when you consider that last night’s finale was televised on one fewer network, because Fox had baseball playoffs and that the first debate came amid the $700-billion bailout battle and Sen. John McCain’s threats to stand up Sen. Barack Obama on the big night.

The Live Feed reports:

Nielsen estimates the Long Island debate between Barack Obama and John McCain registered a 38.3 metered-market household rating — higher than the first debate held on a Friday (34.7 million) and lower than the second bout, held on a Tuesday (42.1)… it’s lower than the vp debate, which stands as the second most-watched of all time.

Apolitical voters may only tune in near the homestretch of campaigns, so it’s possible that some cohorts simply did not start watching until the second and third debates, while Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin’s novelty drew audiences beyond the traditional universe of registered voters.

I think McCain’s arguments got sharper and better in the final two debates too, so it would be interesting to know whether he did better among voters who only saw him as he improved his game.

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