Round 2 of Democratic debate is party’s most-watched ever

National

CORRECTS SPELLING OF GILLIBRAND’S FIRST NAME TO KIRSTEN, INSTEAD OF KRISTEN; CORRECTS BENNET’S TITLE TO SEN., INSTEAD OF FORMER SEN. – Democratic presidential candidates from left, author Marianne Williamson, former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, entrepreneur Andrew Yang, South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice-President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Calif., wave as they enter the stage for the second night of the Democratic primary debate hosted by NBC News at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, Thursday, June 27, 2019, in Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

LOS ANGELES (AP) — NBC says round two of the Democratic presidential debate was the party’s most-watched ever.

Based on Nielsen figures out Friday, the event including early front-runners Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders averaged 18.1 million viewers across NBC, MSNBC and Telemundo.

That topped the previous Democratic debate audience high of 15.5 million for an October 2015 event, which included eventual nominee Hillary Clinton.

Viewership for that debate was previously estimated at 15.8 million.

Neither of this week’s debates approached the audience for the first 2016 GOP primary debate, with newcomer Donald Trump driving curiosity. It drew nearly 24 million viewers on Fox News Channel.

The pair of Democratic debates, the first of the 2020 campaign, split a field of 20 contenders into two groups.

A headline-making exchange Thursday involved former Vice President Biden and Sen. Kamala Harris, who sparred over Biden’s civil rights record.

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