More than 5 million viewers tuned in to FOX News Channel’s groundbreaking “The Great Red vs. Blue State Debate” featuring Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
The roughly 90-minute debate moderated by FOX News’ Sean Hannity averaged 4.75 million total viewers, including 742,000 viewers in the advertiser-coveted 25-54 age demographic, according to data from Nielsen Media Research. An encore of the debate airing from 12-1:30 a.m. ET averaged an additional 706,000 viewers for a combined total of roughly 5.5 million viewers.
The post-debate show, also hosted by Hannity, averaged 3.4 million total viewers and 541,000 in the key demo.
Both DeSantis and Newsom were prepared with their lines of attacks against each other during the historic political shutdown. DeSantis targeted Newsom over his record in California on COVID lockdowns and crime while accusing the prominent Democrat of running a “shadow” presidential campaign.
Meanwhile, Newsom attacked DeSantis on his abortion record and crackdown on books in Florida’s schools while mockingly declaring that neither of them would be their party’s presidential nominees in 2024.
The unprecedented political battle could have implications in the 2024 election cycle. DeSantis is hoping to generate buzz as state and national polls show him significantly behind former President Trump.
And Newsom has widely been seen as a potential alternative to 81-year-old President Biden, who is seeking reelection but continues facing calls for him to step aside as polling continues to sour for the Democrat incumbent.