First, the monster ratings:
The Obama special was seen by 26.3 million viewers across broadcasters CBS, NBC and Fox, according to preliminary Nielsen ratings. If you add Spanish-language broadcaster Univision, that total climbs to 29.9 million.
The entertainment programming that usually runs in the slot on those three networks has averaged a cumulative 23.1 million viewers each week since the start of the season -- 12% lower than the Obama ad total. Put another way, the time period averages about 7.7 million viewers and a 2.4 adults 18-49 rating per network. In the preliminary ratings, the ad pulled an average of 9.2 million viewers and a 2.7 average rating per network -- boosting the advertiser-friendly adult demo by 13%.
Looks like voters were pretty damn interested in what Obama had to say. It would be nice to see the breakdown of Dems/Repubs/Indies.
Now some reviews from the nation's top TV critics.
"Obama uses his TV time well ... There was talk about tough issues but no harsh attacks on the other side and no flashes of anger. It was if the campaign had adopted a new political mantra: Speak softly and carry a big ad." -- USA Today
"There was barely a whisper of negativity in the half hour, but the almost Palinesque call to self-reliance that ran through the show from start to finish undercut both the GOP vice presidential candidate's and McCain's complaints that Obama's big-government philosophy borders on socialism ... Without a wild-eyed college kid in sight, the youthful candidate made his pitch not for change into some newfangled tomorrow, but back to the values of the past. He certainly lost nothing from the infomercial, and it's likely he found more than a few buyers." -- Jonathan Storm, Philadelphia
A reader at TPM makes a great point:
Obama can go on TV for 30 minutes and not mention John McCain even once.
No way would the reverse be true.
Exactly. I'm of the mind that while Obama ought to fight back against McCain's desperate last-minute smears, he should construct his closing message around the themes of unity and a brighter future, much like he did in his incredibly successful Olympics ad. Americans are sick of the divisive politics of old. They're looking for solutions, not scapegoats.