There has been an increase of interest in politics for a variety of different reasons. Exciting candidates, lack of an incumbent, and the desire for change are among the top reasons many people have been interested in this election. This year there have been record numbers of people that have campaign coverage such as convention speeches and debates.
Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention set the record for the most watched convention speech of all time, with 38.4 million viewers. That was until John McCain made his speech one week later, drawing 38.9 million viewers. In between both, Sarah Palin made her speech with 37 million people tuned in.
57 million people watched the first presidential debate while the latest debate between Obama and McCain had 63 million viewers.
The vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Sarah Palin drew 69.9 million viewers, making it the most watched debate since 1992’s presidential debate between Bill Clinton, Ross Perot, and George Bush.
To give this a bit of context here are some other ratings:
NBC averaged 27.7 million viewers during this year’s Olympics. The highest rating it received was 34.9 million.
American Idol averaged 28.1 million viewers last season.
Last year’s Super Bowl was the most watched one of all time with an average of 97 million viewers.
While the debates and conventions speeches don’t quite reach Super Bowl numbers, it is still important to note that the Super Bowl occurs once a year while the speeches and debates are one of many election moments people may watch.
With the level of interest seen thus far, election day will likely break records. According to experts 125 – 200 million people are expected to vote this fall.
While high voter turnout is a good thing, the likelihood for things such as voter fraud also increases. Hopefully this will not be the case, but it is entirely possible that there will be problems similar to those that occurred in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004.
The most important thing that we as citizens can do, no matter who we are voting for, is to ensure the sanctity of our vote. Although there is no such thing as a perfect election, as citizens, we must expect that this election be held to the highest of standards. This is what we deserve and what we must demand.