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More than elsewhere, St. Louis folks watched the McCain/Obama debate

September 27, 2008 |  1:01 pm

Missouri has not been widely viewed as a top-tier battleground state in the presidential race -- it's competitive, as usual, but it would surprise most pundits if it does not ultimately land in John McCain's column.

Recent polls have shown some tightening, though, so perhaps that's a reason preliminary Nielsen Co. ratings for the nation's top metropolitan areas found the St. Louis market with the largest TV audience for Friday night's debate.

Nielsen reported that a majority of households with televisions in and around the city -- 52.1% -- were tuned to the McCain/Barack Obama faceoff.

The "share" figure was even more impressive -- among all TVs in use as the debate aired, 82% in the St. Louis area had it on. That was far and away the highest such number in the major markets. Soon, St. Louis will host one of the debates, too.

The area where the debate attracted the smallest audience? McCain's backyard.

The household rating for the Phoenix/Prescott market was 24.8% (with a 47% share), according to the preliminary report.

Next to last: Los Angeles.

In both of these latter cases, viewership no doubt was lower than in many other places because the debate started at 6 p.m. local time.

Overall, in 55 of the nation's top 56 markets (Houston was excluded because of disarray caused by Hurricane Ike), the debate's rating was 33.2% -- impressive for a Friday night.

The report can be perused here. Nielsen's promises its complete numbers on Monday.

-- Don Frederick

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