Let’s face it, with online streaming and smartphone apps television isn’t what it used to be in terms of ratings.
Despite that, at 32.2 million viewers of Donald Trump’s GOP presidential acceptance speech improved on Mitt Romney’s 30.2 million viewers showing in 2012, according to data compiled by Nielsen.
19.4 million, or 60 percent were over the age of 55.
John McCain set the all-time record for most viewers of an acceptance speech in 2008 at 38.9 million, even more than Barack Obama’s. But that did not predict victory. The economy crashed with a Republican in the White House, and so went the general election.
Still, in 2016, Trump’s performance appears to be pretty decent ratings for what was the longest acceptance speech in decades at 76 minutes. Plus millions more were watching online, which Nielsen does not take into account.
The ratings boost could be a positive sign for the Republican Party, which has not increased general election turnout for more than a decade.
In 2004, Republican popular vote totals for president peaked — at 62,040,610 votes for George W. Bush. 59,948,323 votes were cast for John McCain in 2008. And 60,933,500 votes were cast for Mitt Romney in 2012.
To win in 2016, Republicans need to expand their pool of voters.
The Greatest Generation is all but gone. In 2004, there were still more than 4 million surviving World War II veterans, according to the National World War II Museum. By 2012, that number had shrunk to little more than a million. Now in 2016, it will be far less than a million. Including spouses roughly the same count, bringing the total to about 8 or 9 million, that means in the past 2 election cycles, more than 6 million have died. By 2016, nearly all of them will have died.
According to research by Gallup, the Greatest Generation was roughly split politically and ideologically as recently as 2013 — 47 percent Republican or lean-Republican versus 46 percent Democrat or lean-Democrat. There, the death rate would have hurt each party roughly equally.
The Silent Generation — those born in between the Greatest Generation and Baby Boomers — it is 50 percent to 43 percent in favor of Republicans, including leaners. As that generation now dies off, it disproportionately hurts Republicans.
In the meantime, Millennials, those born between 1980 and 1996, are 53 percent Democrat or lean-Democrat compared to 35 percent who are Republican or lean-Republican. Generation X, born between 1965 and 1979, skew Democrat 46 percent to 42 percent.
As for Baby Boomers, they are roughly split, 46 percent Democrat to 44 percent Republican, including leaners.
Millennials being the tougher get, the Trump campaign plan appears to be by drawing on Baby Boomer and Silent Generation working-class Democrats and Independents. This politically explains the emphasis on international trade and unbridled immigration, which add to economic anxieties. Trump will emphasize Democrats’ past betrayal on creating American jobs to win these voters over.
To create a majority, Trump will need older Americans to skew heavily Republican and to neutralize as much as possible Democrats’ advantage among younger Americans. A July 21 released poll by the Morning Consult finds he already generally leads among Americans 45 years and old. Plus, considering the ratings on television, which skewed older, it appears Trump has at least gotten their attention. If turnout among seniors increases, and among the young decreases, Trump could win.
Time will tell if that all translates into votes. Also unknown is how much buzz the Hillary Clinton campaign, which faces its own challenges, will generate this week. Stay tuned.