The first and only vice presidential debate on Oct. 2 between Republican Sarah Palin and Democrat Joe Biden averaged a 45 rating in Nielsen's 56 metered markets, blowing away the debate between candidates at the top of the ticket, at least in terms of TV following.
But those early returns put the VP debate well ahead of the 31.6 overnight rating for the first presidential debate Sept. 26 between presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain.
Nielsen did not release a viewership total until after deadline, but PBS said, based on 47 overnight markets, it attracted 3.5 million viewers for the vice presidential debate, 900,000 more viewers than it did for the presidential debate.
The all-time viewership leader among VP debates featured the first woman on one of the two major party tickets, Democrat Geraldine Ferraro, taking on Vice President George H. W. Bush in 1984, which drew 56.9 million viewers, according to Nielsen.
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