Republican presidential candidates (L-R) Ohio Governor John Kasich, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Donald Trump, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Ben Carson and Jeb Bush participate in the Fox Business Network Republican presidential debate at the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center on January 14, 2016 in North Charleston, South Carolina. The sixth Republican debate is held in two parts, one main debate for the top seven candidates, and another for three other candidates lower in the current polls.
Scott Olson—Getty Images
By Daniel White
January 15, 2016

Some 11 million viewers tuned into Thursday’s Republican presidential debate—the lowest total in the “Trump era,” but still not bad historically.

Though the ratings were lower than in the 2015 debates, they look better when compared to previous election cycles, according to ratings data from Nielsen. In the 2011-2012 campaign season, Republican debates averaged around 5 million viewers.

Democratic debates have seen a lower average than Republican ones, of about 10.5 million viewers in 2015; that may be symptomatic of the more civil tone of the Democratic contest, with fewer candidates and less fireworks. But it may also be due to the unorthodox scheduling of some of the debates, including a little-watched one on the Saturday night before Christmas.

Even if Thursday’s numbers were lower than usual for the Republicans, the debate was still popular online. Some 6.4 million people in America saw at least one of some 1.2 million tweets sent about the debate on Thursday.

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