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Ratings Winner: Fox News Trumps CNN, MSNBC in Iowa Caucus Coverage

In a hotly contested Republican race, the network sees its overall ratings jump 30 percent from the 2008 caucus

Forget Mitt and Rick, Fox News was the Iowa Caucus' big winner. 

Fox News was far and away the top rated cable news network during last night's coverage of the early presidential contest…and unlike Mitt Romney's victory over Rick Santorum, it wasn't by eight votes. 

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Fox  more than doubled the ratings of rivals CNN and MSNBC, averaging 2.15 million viewers and 637,000 in the key 25 to 54 demographic for the night, according to Nielsen Media Research.

In contrast, CNN averaged 1 million total viewers and 390,000 viewers in the 25-54 demo. MSNBC averaged 932,000 viewers, with 259,000 coming from the 25-54 demo. 

Fox's primetime coverage (8-11 p.m.) was seen by 2.63 million viewers, whereas CNN and MSNBC boasted audiences of 1.31 million and 1.20 million viewers respectively. 

Right-leaning Fox likely benefited from the fact that the Iowa Caucus was focused on a Republican field of presidential aspirants. The network's overall ratings were up 30 percent from 2008's heartland face-off. MSNBC's ratings were up 1 percent and CNN's fell 36 percent. 

As the evening wore on — and the various cable news anchors fell over themselves coming up with variations on "too close to call" — predictably the audience for all three rivals trickled away. 

Fox racked up 1.82 million total viewers during the final four hours of coverage, CNN attracted 839,000 viewers and MSNBC drew 693,000 viewers. 

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