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Obama's speech is TV ratings home run

By Jimmy Orr / August 31, 2008



Mockery is the sincerest form of flattery.  That's not how the saying goes, but the Obama campaign can take it that way.

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Although the stage in which the Democratic nominee gave his acceptance speech on Thursday was  ridiculed as the "Temple of Obama," for its elaborate columned look drawing comparisons to an ancient Greek temple, it provided the backdrop for a television ratings success.

It was an elaborate setting.  Some called it garish.  But in this football stadium which houses the most loyal fan base in the NFL (based simply on the number of consecutive sold-out games), Barack Obama hit a home run, or more appropriately threw a touchdown.  Perhaps even scored a hat-trick.  At least in terms of television ratings.

At least 40 million people watched Obama's acceptance speech.  Giving this number some context, it topped the most watched night of the Beijing Olympics (roughly 35 million) and this year's Oscars (32 million).

Nielsen estimates 38.4 million people watched the speech and PBS (which was not part of Nielsen's survey) estimates another 3.5 million viewers.

In the political game, it seemed to trounce convention speeches of the past, doubling the viewership of John Kerry's speech in 2004 (20 million) and - although numbers are sketchy the further back you go - topping Bill Clinton's 27 million watchers back in '92 and Al Gore's 22 million in 2000.

How'd people take it?  Of course it depends on who you ask.  Gallup, in the business of asking every question, did exactly that.  Democrats loved it.  Republicans did not.

"Democrats give Obama's speech rave reviews, with 62% saying it was an excellent speech and another 21% describing it as good. A majority of independents rate Obama's speech as either excellent (27%) or good (25%), but Republicans were less impressed (12% excellent and 25% good)."

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