ABC’s GOP Debate Takes the Ratings Crown

Saturday night’s contest averaged 7.6 million total viewers

Score one for ABC News.

Saturday night’s GOP debate was the most-watched of the 2012 campaign as an average of 7.6 million viewers tuned in to watch the presidential candidates take on such hot topics as unemployment and immigration.

Despite a relatively late start time — 9 p.m. on the East Coast — 2.1 million of those viewers were in the key adults 25-54 demo.

Both of those numbers beat the previous highs, held by Fox News in total viewers (6.11 million on Sept. 22) and MSNBC in the demo (1.73 million on Sept. 7).

Also Read: Donald Trump to Moderate GOP Debate in Iowa (Updated)

They were also well ahead of the numbers for the only other debate on one of the major broadcast networks, CBS News’ debate on Nov 12.

Moderated by Diane Sawyer and George Stephanopoulos, the ABC debate was broadcast live from Des Moines, Iowa, with the Iowa caucus — the first of the election season — less than a month away.

Between the two current frontrunners — Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich — Gingrich was seen as the winner of the contest, which was also hosted by Yahoo News, the Republican Party of Iowa and the Des Moines Register.