You probably remember the headlines from two weeks ago: McCain Acceptance Speech Edges Out Obama. Kudos for the candidates and the networks that carried their addresses. But a closer examination of the Nielsen numbers tells a different story. Which is less different than you might have imagined.
No question that McCain beat Obama on their respective acceptance nights with a smashing TV HH rating of 23.5, eclipsing the Dem’s best effort of 16.4 (percent of all U.S. TV Homes). Averaged Republican ratings for the week narrowly edged out Democratic viewing 21.9 to 19.9. But homes don’t vote, people do. And not everyone who views votes. Also, there’s no assurance that those who watched will vote for either candidate. Here’s how it breaks down:
- Men and Women: More women tuned into the Democrats in Denver than men; the reverse was true for the Republicans in Minneapolis. The Republican show was watched by 14.2% of Men 18+ and 15.2% of Women 18+. Democrats delivered 11.5% of men and 14% of women.
- Not as young as you think: If you are assuming that Obama attracts younger voters and McCain skews older — the viewing numbers don’t back up those preconceptions. The conventions’ percent composition of all persons (ages 2+) for P18-34 is a dead heat. Ibid for P18-49 and P55+, too.
- Real Change? Here’s the party that changed convention viewing in 2008: none of the above. The conventions may have beaten the 2004 confabs, but they didn’t bring any new age groups to the party. Comparing each demo to the total composition of the US, viewing to the conventions under-indexes for Teens, P18-34 and 18-49.
- Old is still where it’s at: both parties over indexed for delivering A55 and older. Republicans and Democrats index at 197 and 193, respectively.
- African Americans Break the Rule: Black viewers (technically, people viewing in Nielsen households where the head of household is African American) indexed at 147 for the Democratic convention. This group was not so interested in the Republicans, under indexing at 66 (44 points below the US averaged pegged at 100). Neither party did well with Hispanic viewers (44 for Republicans and 53 for Democrats).
Perhaps there was more interest by America’s youngest voters than meets the eye: Adults 18-49 watching The Daily Show during both conventions increased 42% (1.1 million adults) compared to four years ago; Men 18-24 jumped 46%.
How To Read the chart: The percent of A55+ watching the Republican convention is 97% higher than that the proportion of A55+ in the Total US.