Wednesday’s debate was designed to give GOP candidates a shot at what they desperately needed: a chance to showcase their messages and break away from the crowded Republican field. Only those hopes may have been dashed—not just by their flailing attempts to jump-start a stagnant race, but by record-low viewership that ultimately limited their ability to reach new voters. Only 9.3 million people tuned into the debate, according to Nielsen ratings, the lowest since the 2016 election cycle. Even with the absence of former President Donald Trump, the party’s first debate managed to attract 3.4 million more viewers, a sign of voters’ weariness with the course of the stagnant 2024 primary.
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