One of the things that couldn’t fail to strike someone who watched the Republican Presidential primary with even a moderate amount of interest was Donald Trump’s obsession with numbers reflecting people’s interest in his candidacy. Long segments of his stump speeches were simply Trump reading poll results that showed him in the lead.
He also loved to brag about the television ratings of the presidential primary debates. When the early debates broke all viewership records for primary debates, he claimed credit and started suggesting that networks be forced to donate money to a charity of his choice because of the supposed advertising bonanza they would enjoy from future debates.
When Trump skipped a debate and the ratings for it fell in comparison, he again crowed about his singular ability to draw eyeballs to the small screen.
So, even if he won’t admit it, it has to be bothering Trump that every one of the first three nights of the Democratic Convention has beaten the same night of the Republican convention in terms of television viewership.
According to Nielsen, which tracks television viewership, the first night of the Democratic convention had 26 million viewers, while the first night of the Republican convention drew 23.4 million. On night two, the Democrats drew 24.7 million compared to the Republicans’ 19.8 million.
The third night, the blockbuster for the Democrats so far that included President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia, edged the Republicans’ third night despite lasting well beyond 11:30 at night, when ratings typically plunge. The Democrats drew 24 million compared to the Republicans’ 23.4 million.
While there is no way to be sure that there is any connection, it seemed a bit suspicious on Thursday when the Trump campaign sent out an email to supporters asking that they avoid watching Hillary Clinton formally accept the Democratic nomination for president in the final night of the DNC convention this evening.
The request came in the form of a fundraising email that said, in part:
“Unless you want to be lied to, belittled, and attacked for your beliefs, don't watch Hillary's DNC speech tonight ... Instead, help Donald Trump hold her accountable, call out her lies and fight back against her nasty attacks.”
The email, of course, could just be part of a run-of-the-mill fundraising effort. But given Trump’s demonstrated devotion to his role as king of the television ratings, it’s difficult not to see his hand at work here personally.