The first Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump presidential debate was watched by 84 million people, breaking a previous TV record set 36 years ago.
In 1980, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan’s debate drew 80.6 million viewers.
The viewing figures only count those who watched the debate on the 13 TV channels that carried it live, meaning the true figure may be much higher.
Millions are also thought to have watched worldwide through online live streams or in bars and at parties.
The data provider Nielsen said that viewers stayed tuned through the 98-minute debate.
Image source Wikimedia
Donald Trump told supporters on September 27 that he knew the debate would have “one of the largest audiences in the history of television” but he “took a deep breath” and “pretended I was talking to my family”.
“You just block it out,” the Republican said.
In 2015, the NFL’s Super Bowl won the biggest TV audience to date when 114.4 million people watched New England play Seattle.
There are two more presidential debates to come between the candidates – on October 9 and 19 – before the election on November 8.
On October 9, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump will have competition for the attention of the US; NFL teams the Green Bay Packers and the New York Giants will be playing at the same time as the second debate.
Republican candidate Donald Trump has criticized Lester Holt, the moderator in the first presidential debate, for being tougher on him than on Hillary Clinton.
Donald Trump also complained about his microphone crackling and being at a lower level than Hillary Clinton’s.
The two candidates clashed over jobs, temperament and tax in a debate watched by up to 100 million viewers.
Opinion polls give Hillary Clinton a slight edge, with a majority of voters declaring her the winner of the debate.
Although Donald Trump told reporters immediately after the debate that Lester Holt had done a good job, he accused him of a left-leaning performance the next morning.
“He didn’t ask her about the emails, he didn’t ask her about the scandals, he didn’t ask her about the Benghazi deal. He didn’t ask her about a lot of things he should have asked her about. Why? I don’t know,” he said, speaking to Fox and Friends.
Image source Wikimedia
Donald Trump said Lester Holt had been much tougher on him: “You look at it, you watch the last four questions, he hit me on birther [Donald Trump’s past allegation that President Barack Obama was not born in the US], he hit me on a housing deal from many years ago, that I settled on with no recourse and no guilt… that’s a beauty to be asked, a 40-year-old lawsuit.”
The Republican also said his microphone was “terrible” and crackled, and that his volume was lower than Hillary Clinton’s microphone. He blamed it for what some listeners thought were sniffles by Donald Trump during the debate.
Asked to rate Hillary Clinton’s performance, Donald Trump said he would give her a C-plus, but he declined to grade himself.
“I think I really did well when they asked normal questions,” he said, but added he naturally struggled when asked “unanswerable” ones.
On what he might do differently: “I may hit her harder in certain ways. You know, I really eased up because I didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. So I may hit her harder in certain ways.”
Hours before the debate, polls suggested the candidates were locked in a dead heat, adding to the tension between the rivals on stage throughout the debate.
“I have a feeling that by the end of this evening, I’m going to be blamed for everything that’s ever happened,” Hillary Clinton quipped when prompted to respond to one of Donald Trump’s attacks.
“Why not?” Donald Trump interrupted.
“Yeah, why not,” Hillary Clinton answered.
“You know, just join the debate by saying more crazy things.”
Donald Trump was later thrown on the defensive by Lester Holt for not disclosing his tax returns.
He claimed he was under a “routine audit”.
However, Donald Trump promised he would release them if Hillary Clinton released 33,000 emails that were deleted during an investigation into her private email set-up while secretary of state.
A CNN/ORC poll taken after the first presidential debate found that 62% of voters who had watched the head-to-head thought that Hillary Clinton came out on top, with just 27% giving it to Donald Trump.
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This is based on interviews with 521 registered voters chosen as part of a random national sample. However, only 26% identified themselves as Republicans while 41% identified themselves as Democrats.
An informal CNBC poll on its website found that 61% of people thought that Donald Trump won while 39% went for Hillary Clinton, but as CNBC itself points out, the poll is not scientific – anyone, including people outside the United States, appears to be able to vote.
A post-debate survey by Public Policy Polling of 1,002 debate-watchers found that 51% of national voters thought Hillary Clinton had won, with 40% choosing Donald Trump and 9% undecided.