Palin’s GOP speech draws huge ratings

Gov. Sarah Palin at the GOP Convention in St. Paul, MN

Gov. Sarah Palin at the GOP Convention in St. Paul, MN

It was only a guess. I predicted big TV audience ratings.  Nielsen Media Research today estimated that 37 million people watched Sarah Palin’s debut as the Republican vice presidential nominee Wednesday night. Those ratings numbers were almost Obama huge.

The audience watching Gov. Palin last night were just a million less than watched Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Obama’s convention record audience of 38 million last Thursday at the Democrats’ closing night.

Palin’s ratings are made up of television viewers from CNN, Fox News, NBC, CBS, ABC and MSNBC. Palin’s numbers might have even been higher. TV One and BET aren’t covering the GOP convention but did cover the Democratic National Convention.

I blogged last night: “The Democrats should take this opponent seriously, if they haven’t already… Palin looked relaxed and confident in her address in St. Paul, MN. It was evident she prepared well for the occasion, practicing every nuance of a well crafted political speech. She delivered it without flaw.”

To me this suggests American voters are eagerly looking for more information to help guide their choices come November’s presidential election. It also suggests millions of voters have yet to decide if they’ll vote for a McCain/Palin ticket or Obama/Biden ticket.

Palin’s audience numbers were greater than:

  • The 26 million who watched Sen. Hillary Clinton’s speech at the Democratic convention last week.
  • The 24 million viewers who watched Democratic Vice-Presidential nominee Joe Biden’s speech last week.

Curious U.S. voters and the news media, I predict, will continue to follow Gov. Palin on the campaign trail. It’s a largely unscripted environment. Exhaustion is the norm. Experience can be a huge bonus. Staying alert and on message is critical for political survival.

Writing for the Associated Press, Tom Raum and Liz Sidoti complimented Palin in their speech analysis last night. They wrote: “Sarah Palin delivered. An embattled vice presidential candidate, a novice on the national stage, the head of a family suffering its ‘ups and downs,’ the first-term Alaska governor rocked the GOP convention with a star-turning performance.”

Tom Teepen, a syndicted columnist for the Cox Newspapers was less confident in his take on Palin. He wrote: “Her convention success notwithstanding, it is still not clear that Palin carries a ticket that would get her on a cross-town bus, much less to the White House.”

Despite Republican claims of political bias, the news media will continue to ask tough questions of Palin. That’s a responsibility of the news media. It could be Palin’s ultimate political test.

BTW: Here’s how last week’s TV Broadcast and Cable ratings shaped-up for the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO:

Courtesy Nielsen Media Research

Courtesy Nielsen Media Research

Courtesy Nielsen Media Research

Courtesy Nielsen Media Research

About Bernard McCoy

My views are my own and not a reflection of my employer. I'm a professor of Journalism at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. I've also been a working journalist for the past 29 years. I have covered news stories in war zones, reported on human and natural disasters, presidential conventions, a presidential inauguration and the September 11th, 2001 attack on the World Trade Center in New York City. My career experiences include work as an award-winning documentary producer, television news reporter, photographer, producer, and anchor. I worked at WIBW-TV, Topeka, KS., KCTV, Kansas City, MO, WKBD-TV, Detroit, MI., WILX-TV, Lansing, MI. and WBNS-TV, Columbus, OH. I have also worked as a contributing reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, Associated Press, CBS, CNN, the Ohio News Network and lecture at the Kosovo Institute of Journalism and Communications. I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a master’s degree in telecommunications management from Michigan State University.
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