Nielsen Television Ratings
for Each of the Presidential Debates
from 1960 through 2000

Courtesy of Nielsen Media Research

Year
Networks
Candidates
Date
Total Rating
Total Homes (millions)
Total Persons (millions)
1960
ABC, CBS, NBC
Kennedy-Nixon
Sept. 26
59.5
28.1
N/A
     
Oct. 7
59.1
27.9
N/A
     
Oct. 13
61.0
28.8
N/A
     
Oct. 21
57.8
27.3
N/A
1964
NO DEBATES
1968
1972
1976
ABC, CBS, NBC
Carter-Ford
Sept.23
53.5
38.0
69.7
Oct.6
52.4
37.3
63.9
     
Oct. 22
47.8
34.0
62.7
1980
ABC, CBS, NBC
Reagan-Carter-Anderson
Oct.28
58.9
45.8
80.6
1984
ABC, CBS, NBC
Reagan-Mondale
Oct. 7
45.3
38.5
65.1
Oct.21
46.0
39.1
67.3
1988
ABC, CBS, NBC
Bush-Dukakis
Sept. 25
36.8
33.3
65.1
Oct. 13
35.9
32.5
67.3
1992
ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN
Clinton-Bush-Perot
Oct. 11*
38.3
35.7
62.4
Oct.15
46.3
43.1
69.9
Oct. 19
45.2
42.1
66.9
1996
ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOX
Clinton-Dole
Oct. 6
31.6
30.6
46.1
Oct. 16**
26.1
25.3
36.3
2000
ABC, CBS, NBC, FOX, CNN, MSNBC, FOXNC
Bush-Gore
Oct. 3
31.7
32.4
46.6
Oct.11
26.8
27.4
37.5
Oct. 17
25.9
26.3
37.7

Source: Nielsen Tunes into Politics 1992.
* Does not include CBS. ** Does not include FOX