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Interesting data. Unless I am mistaken about the logistics of ratings, I have to believe Obama's speech reached more viewers than TV ratings alone reveal--for instance, would large parties gathered under one roof count as a single household? And what of those who watched it via the Internet? (I don't many people my age who still own an actual TV set.)

Posted by Emily | August 30, 2008 1:30 PM

all excellent points, emily. in fact, i only watch television in public (bars, airports, waiting rooms, and so on). if alone at home, i see the whole world through the internets.

Posted by charles mudede | August 30, 2008 1:43 PM

True- many people treated this as a major event, to be shared with friends or like-minded individuals in a public setting. Many of my friends went to various bar or restaurant venues to see the oratory.

This numbers-game also brings into question these polls with which we keep getting whacked.
Who answers these things? Would YOU give out your political preferences to some random anonymous voice on the phone, in this era of no-knock no-warrant no-recourse searches?

Posted by Karlheinz Arschbomber | August 30, 2008 1:45 PM

What is now my cell-phone number used to be my landline number, so I still get calls from polling agencies. Over the last couple months they've increased steadily, sometimes several in a day. When I do occasionally answer them (caller I.D. usually tells me that the person on the other end at "Unidentified Number" is probably a poller or telemarketer) they are almost always push polls. I recently got one about Doug Sutherland that was pretty obviously spinning the questions in his favor.

Posted by flamingbanjo | August 30, 2008 3:09 PM

Q: What do the Mariners and BHO have in common?

A: Their biggest audience is 14 year old girls.

Unfortunately for Democrats, universal sufferage has not yet reached down into the tweens...otherwise, he'd be a shoo-in.

Posted by John Bailo | August 30, 2008 3:29 PM

At the Obama Watch Party that the 43rd Dems had at Spitfire, there were a few sets where people had come to watch some sports games - some of them were Republicans (voted for Bush twice, etc) - and even they cheered when Obama said certain phrases.


Posted by Will in Seattle | August 30, 2008 5:02 PM


I think 14 year old girls are teenagers, not "tweens." Is there another version of your joke and follow up line that's actually observant and funny?

Posted by Kaypro | August 30, 2008 5:12 PM

Don't forget that those numbers don't include public television or C-Span.

Posted by octaviastkid | August 30, 2008 5:16 PM

At least Obama did not say he was bigger than M*A*S*H, He could say he is bigger than Jesus and get away with it, I mean who cares about Jesus, but M*A*S*H...that would be too much.

Posted by Cato the Younger Younger | August 30, 2008 5:47 PM

@8: C-Span definitely had the best coverage. I recommend it for the debates. Special bonus: by watching Obama's speech on C-Span I missed that Dino Rossi commercial.

Posted by RainMan | August 30, 2008 7:38 PM

This figure completely fails to take into consideration the Youtube generation.

I actually watched that final episode of M*A*S*H. If I wanted to see that episode of M*A*S*H, I had only one choice: to watch it on TV on the night it was broadcast. You couldn't buy/rent the season's episode on DVD. You couldn't watch clips of it on Youtube. You couldn't listen to it on the radio. So everyone that liked the show sat on their couches on that final night, turned on the TV, and watched it.

I also wanted to watch Obama's speech. But I had other plans for the evening too. No problem. I had dinner with friends, and watched Obama's speech on Youtube the next morning. Or I could have listened to it on the radio (I actually caught the first few minutes of it on NPR while driving to my friend's place). Or I could have watched it rebroadcast later on C-Span. It was available on the MSNBC site, and probably any number of other websites too. I could have TIVOed it if I had TIVO. I had lots of viewing/listening options. I would venture to guess that a lot of people watched it or listened to it by other means than the 27 million that actually watched it live on TV.

Posted by Reverse Polarity | August 30, 2008 10:42 PM

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