Is Watching Politics Really Better Than Football and Cable?

In a world where politics beats sports in ratings... wait, what?

Quick Quiz: There are three shows on at the same time — ‘The Walking Dead,’ ‘Sunday Night Football,’ and the CNN Reagan Library Debate. Which one gets the most viewers?

That’s right. The show featuring 11 talking heads looking for a job. That’s the one earning more than 23 million viewers. It rated about eight million more than football and 10 million more than flesh-eating zombies.

Prior to the festivities in the shadows of Ronald Reagan’s Air Force One, CNN’s most watched presidential debate was in 2008. America was excited about this Obama guy about to make history … and that was only 8.3 million viewers.

So, what’s with all the hubbub? Are we really becoming more of a politically conscientious people? Do we candidly want more of our leaders in the White House? Or, is it that we have to tap the brakes when we pass a huge wreck on the highway?

Yeah. It’s more of the latter. Much more. 

Trump gladiatorWhy?! From a political scientist to a shrewd public affairs professional, the answer is still the same — Trump. We could have a female president. Meh. We could have back-to-back African-American presidents. So. We could vote in a legacy, never has a 3rd generation been in the White House. Big Deal. 

People are fascinated by celebrity drama, the ugly nerd getting the beautiful girl, and the cataclysmic train wreck on live TV. And Trump provides us the trifecta.

The electoral process is being made a mockery in front of us all, and no one seems to care because “are we not entertained?”

And while that remains the only thing that matters, ratings will only grow. Will interest in the White House grow? Only if we can vote via text and the results are made into a talent contest TV show.

That’s where public affairs firms need to move around lobbyists, where publicists need speak to their political clients, and cause the practice for Reputation Management 101 to take center stage. To gain the confidence of the American people, it must.

Until then, the only stage will be the one in the middle of the circus. And that big top will continue to be full.

Publish date: September 18, 2015 © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT