It’s not a surprise that Donald Trump is a very TV-focused president. He often tweets about what he’s watching on Fox News, responding to reporting in real time. Some have joked that Trump would tweet about 28-day detox tea if it was advertised on Fox News. He’s often more receptive of criticism that comes from TV reports than from printed news. This has led many to point out that most of Trump’s fame came initially from the US reality TV show “The Apprentice.”
Following Trump’s inauguration, he made a large show about the viewership numbers and the attendance. This led to the first major headline of his presidency: his advisor Kellyanne Conway’s insistence on using “alternative facts” when discussing the size of the crowd. Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, Trump made a huge deal over the ratings of the White House’s daily press briefings.
Biden Stings Trump’s Ego Over Speech Viewership
As such, you know Trump is keeping a close eye on the viewership numbers for the Republican National Convention. Since COVID has made in-person rallies difficult, Trump made moves to have the RNC be a massive spectacle. In fact, some have even accused Trump of violating the Hatch Act by using federal property, like the White House, in his political campaign.
However, Biden may have dealt Trump a blow in an arena where Trump felt himself unassailable: his ratings. Roughly 23.6 million people tuned in for Biden’s acceptance speech at the DNC last week. Thursday night, however, Trump’s addressed reached 21.6 million. Still a sizable number, but two million behind Biden’s showing. That’s something Trump is sure to have noticed.
Biden Embraces Ratings Boost
At the end of the day, the exact ratings numbers for the speeches are unimportant. Ratings in general are a poor metric of political engagement. However, the Biden campaign quickly embraced the headline for its irony. Biden, a candidate known for his long political career, managed to garner more viewers than TV-obsessed Trump.
Notably, Biden’s showing in ratings was bumped up significantly by streaming and internet TV numbers. As for traditional cable TV, Trump’s speech fared better. However, this was to be expected. After all, Trump’s base skews older, and older people tend to use traditional cable when viewing entertainment. Biden’s support is largely coming from younger Americans, who are more likely to use internet TV and streaming platforms.
The real numbers that will matter, however, are the vote tallies. November is looming, and both candidates are digging their heels in for a major battle.