Nielsen:

·      The combined overall household rating for last night's presidential debate, in 55 of the 56 local television markets where Nielsen maintains electronic TV meters, was 33.2.  (Local ratings for the Houston market are still unavailable due to the effects of Hurricane Ike.)

·      The St. Louis market had the largest TV audience, with a household rating of 52.1, while the Phoenix/Prescott market had the lowest household rating: 24.8.  (One rating point equals 1% of the total TV audience in a given market.)

National ratings for Friday night’s debate will be available from Nielsen on Monday.

The biggest audiences tended to come from the MidWest. Among critical political markets where ratings were very strong: St Louis, MO; Greensboro and Raleigh-Durham, NC; Columbus, OH; Norfolk and Richmond, VA; Denver, CO; Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and Palm Beach, FL; Detroit, MI; Indianapolis, IN.

It will be interesting to see how the polling looks in those states in a couple of days. Whoever won that debate will have been doing it in front of some critical swing voters. (New Yorkers and Los Angelenos were among the least interested in the debate. But then it was Friday night in the big city, so I don't blame them.)

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