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Election Night Coverage – Historical Ratings 1960-2004
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Election Night Coverage – Historical Ratings 1960-2004

Television viewing on Election Night has changed dramatically over the years, considering the expansion of technology and the number of different channels available to the average home. In 1960 for example, in the close race between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon, most U.S. homes had only a few channels available so the Election Night returns captured virtually all the audience with more than 65% of all homes tuning in. Now with more than 40 channels available to the average home, the percentage of homes watching political coverage (as seen in the combined rating column) has gone down.

Numbers for coverage of Barack Obama and John McCain’s race for the White House will be released Nov. 5.

YEAR NETWORKS COMBINED

RATING

COMBINED

HOUSEHOLDS

2004 ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC 34.5 37,856,000
2000 ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC, CNN, FOXNC, MSNBC 40.2 40,914,000
1996 ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN 25.8 24,940,000
1992 ABC, CBS, NBC 39.8 36,900,000
1988 ABC, CBS, NBC 25.9 23,414,000
1984 ABC, CBS, NBC 35.9 30,479,000
1980 ABC, CBS, NBC 46.4 37,074,000
1976 ABC, CBS, NBC 51.6 36,739,000
1972 ABC, CBS, NBC 45.4 29,419,000
1968 ABC, CBS, NBC 58.5 34,076,000
1964 ABC, CBS, NBC 55.7 29,311,250
1960 ABC, CBS, NBC 65.7 29,796,000
Source: © 2008 NIELSEN MEDIA RESEARCH; Nielsen Tunes into Politics 1992, NTI Television Audience, 1960 and 1964 NTI Pocketpieces