Republican debate ratings tank

Republican Debate Ratings: Did Donald Trump’s Absence Hurt The Fox News Event?

The Republican debate ratings have constantly remained high this election season largely because of one man: Donald Trump. So when he decided to not show up to the Republican debate on Fox News, ratings were in question.

The Hollywood Reporter stated this morning that the Republican debate ratings did, in fact, stay solid with a score of 8.4. This was higher than the preliminary rating for the last debate on January 14.

CNN reports that although the last Republican debate’s ratings were lower, the previous five GOP debates averaged ratings of 8.9 to 15.9.

The Fox News debate last August still holds the record for viewership, with nearly 24 million people tuning in to get their first glimpse of Donald Trump in action.

Right off the bat, Megyn Kelly asked Ted Cruz to address the “elephant in the room,” which he did by poking a little fun at Trump.

He said, “I’m a maniac, and everyone on this stage is stupid fat and ugly and Ben you’re a terrible surgeon. Now that we’ve gotten the Donald Trump portion out of the way…”

While the Fox News moderators got to ask Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz, and Jeb Bush questions, Donald Trump was out in Iowa raising money for veterans charities.

But he was definitely there in spirit.

Frank Bruni at the New York Times said, “His ghost was there, because he’d reshaped his Republican rivals’ images, reconfigured the challenges in front of them, rewritten the rules of this extraordinary race.”

Trump didn’t attend the debate because of a comment made against him on Fox News.

“In the course of those conversations, we acknowledged his concerns about a satirical observation we made in order to quell the attacks on Megyn Kelly, and prevent her from being smeared any further,” Fox News commented. “Furthermore, Trump offered to appear at the debate upon the condition that FOX News contribute $5 million to his charities. We explained that was not possible and we could not engage in a quid pro quo, nor could any money change hands for any reason.”

Astonishingly, after the initial jabs and quips thrown in Donald’s direction, the debate went smoothly, and no one mentioned Trump much after that.

Without Trump, the spotlight fell on Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz to stand out amongst the crowd, but many of those watching said Jeb Bush may have come out on top.

Ben Carson, the notable republican front-runner a few months ago, slipped into the background. Once again, the retired neurosurgeon used his credentials as a doctor to justify him being on stage.

“I’ve had more 2 a.m. phone calls than everybody here put together, making life and death decisions,” he said.

John Kasich, another candidate in the background, got to chime in about his take on many issues.

“We cannot fix things in this country – the Social Security, the border, balancing the budget, getting wages to grow faster – unless we lead as conservatives, but we also invite people in from the other party,” Kasich said. “We have to come together as a country. And we have to stop all the divisions.”

Overall, the republican debate ratings weren’t spectacular. Fox News had better success in the previous debates that Trump attended. In the end, it was nice for the other candidates to get their word in on the issues despite all this talk about ratings.

[Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images]