LOS ANGELES (AFP) — A record US television audience tuned in for the one-off vice-presidential debate between Republican pick Sarah Palin and Democratic foe Joseph Biden, final figures showed Friday.
Nielsen Media Research said 69.9 million people watched Palin face off with Biden, eclipsing the previous best mark set in 1984 when 56.7 million tuned in for Geraldine Ferraro's tussle with George H.W. Bush.
The figure easily surpassed the 52.4 million people who had watched presidential nominees Barack Obama and John McCain go head-to-head in their first debate of the campaign last Friday.
The audience also outscored the 2004 vice-presidential debate between Democratic hopeful John Edwards and Republican incumbent Dick Cheney, which drew only 43.6 million people.
Thursday's vice-presidential debate was one of the most eagerly awaited showdowns in years and came after a series of faltering performances in television interviews from Palin last week.
Nielsen said the Palin-Biden debate had been shown live on no fewer than 12 networks broadcast in America, including ABC, CBS, FOX, NBC and CNN.
The under-pressure Palin was widely judged to have performed better than expected against Biden, although her performance did little to transform the overall presidential battle between Obama and McCain.
Snap opinion polls on Thursday suggested Biden won the debate. CNN's sampling said he took the clash by 51 to 36 percent while a CBS survey of uncommitted voters scored it 46 to 21 in favor of Biden.
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