Presidential Debates: The Numbers Game

Gearing up for tonight’s VP debate? Well, you’re certainly not alone.

And according to Nielsen (the ratings system, not Leslie the slapstick actor), 52.4 million concerned Americans tuned in to watch John McCain and Barack Obama engage in some good old verbal pugilism last Friday. However, the debate didn’t even crack into the top 10 of all time.

Check out some of these stats regarding debates of yesteryear. Looks like Carter vs. Reagan (1980) claims the most viewers, while the famous Nixon-Kennedy battles of 1960 still own the top three spots in percentage of households.

You’re probably saying, "Surely tonight’s event will rank near the top in VP debates, right?"

Well, you might be right — but don’t call me "Shirley."

Gingrich Enjoys Role of Historian

Newt Gingrich is best known for his days in Congress, particularly as Speaker of the House following the 1994 election. Gingrich is also a recognized expert on world history, military issues and international topics, with 10 fiction and non-fiction bestsellers among the 16 books he has authored.

Speaking recently during the Council of State Governments’ (CSG) spring conference as part of its 75th anniversary celebration, Gingrich opened by asking the audience to think back to 1933. Not only was CSG first coming into existence, but radio was on the way to becoming a leading source of information.

"Ronald Reagan used to tell the story how newspapers got a law passed in Congress that radio couldn’t carry any news," he relates. "Reagan was working at WHO in Des Moines, Iowa in 1933 when there was a major earthquake in Los Angeles."

Prevented from directly relaying the news of the day to his listeners, Reagan "would turn down the music and ‘accidentally’ talk to his producer about the quake when new updates came in." A clever way around the ill-conceived law.

Gingrich kept the CSG audience on alert with a variety of stories and opinions. We’ll share more of them here and look forward to his appearance at the 19th Annual Awards Dinner hosted by the Indiana Chamber on November 6.