The United States is finally starting to catch its breath after Tuesday’s tumultuous presidential debate that shocked the world. Here are some stats on what will probably remain as the worst debate in US history.


First published in October 2020.


Messy. Bitter. Chaos. Absolutely awful. These are just some of the terms being used to describe Tuesday’s debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden.

NBC’s Meet The Press host Chuck Todd labeled the contest “a train wreck of the making of one person” while CNN’s Jake Tapper called it “a hot mess inside a dumpster fire inside a train wreck”. Moderator Chris Wallace struggled to take control of a debate filled with interruptions and personal attacks as both candidates attempted to get their points across on a variety of issues including the pandemic, white supremacists and the economy.

Initial polls have already been released looking into who won the debate but the consensus among many commentators is that the American people lost.

So... who actually won?

A CBS News survey of 1,039 likely voters who reported watching the debate was released immediately after it finished. 83% of respondents said its tone was negative while 69% reported that the debate made them feel annoyed. So who do respondents feel came out on top? The CBS survey found that 48% think Biden won the debate while 41% consider Trump the winner. 10% say that the debate was a tie.

Share of debate watchers who think Trump/Biden won. | Statista

Who spoke the most in the debate?

As expected, the debate was a bad-tempered affair, filled with interruptions and insults. The event swiftly degenerated into a shouting match.

According to CNN, Donald Trump had the most speaking time in the debate at 39 minutes and 6 seconds while Joe Biden spoke for 37 minutes and 56 seconds.

Minutes spoken in the first Presidential Debate. | Statista

Which Presidential Debates drew the biggest TV audiences?

Nielsen has published its TV ratings for the 90-minute event and it attracted 73.1 million viewers which makes it the third most-watched debate in history.

Despite the fact that Tuesday’s contest trails the 84.4 million figure for Donald Trump’s first debate against Hillary Clinton in 2016 as well as the 80.6 milllion who tuned in for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 debate with Jimmy Carter, its viewership was still massive and it was the biggest U.S. TV event since last February’s Super Bowl.

Estimated TV viewership of U.S. Presidential Debates since 1976. | Statista

The number of people who subjected themselves to the shouting match is, however, probably much higher than Nielsen’s figure which only takes TV viewers into account. People followed the debate in other ways such as live streaming, through news feeds or by listening to it on the radio. The number of people streaming the event is one possible reason for the decline in viewers compared to the first debate in 2016 while voter fatigue may have played a role in some people avoiding it. Despite its unpleasant nature, Nielsen’s data shows that nearly all viewers watched the debate in its entirety.🔷



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Check their Voting Record:

🗳️ Donald Trump

🗳️ Joe Biden







[This piece was first published in Statista: here, here, here & written by Niall McCarthy, Data Journalist at Statista.]

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(Cover: Screenshot from the presidential debate on PBS.)

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