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The 2016 presidential election is must-see TV, according to online survey

The 2016 presidential election is must see TV according to online survey

A new online survey conducted by the Pew Research Center revealed that Americans are much more interested in the upcoming 2016 presidential election than they were at this point in the race in 2007.

It also appears that the televised presidential debates are an important companion to the election cycle, and Pew revealed that a majority of viewers find the debates informative and fun to watch. Here's how the numbers shake out.

Big ratings
Pew reported that 69 percent of respondents to an online survey stated that watching at least one presidential debate. At this point in 2007, that number was just 43 percent. The increase in viewers has been big news for television networks, and according to TV By The Numbers, the debates have been dominating cable television ratings for the past few months.

For example, on a Tuesday night in mid-December, the fifth Republican debate held in Las Vegas drew over 18 million viewers. Outside of news coverage and the event itself, just 2.2 million people watched the next most-viewed television program, "The Big Bang Theory."

The debates haven't just been able to lure viewers away from sitcoms. On December 18th, the second Democrat debate was held on a Saturday night, and ABC's coverage earned equivalent audience numbers to CBS' broadcast of an NFL game. TV By The Numbers reported that the Dem debate saw similar viewership to the Jets-Cowboys game for adults aged 18-49.

Pew found that across the board, members of both political parties reported that the debates are entertaining but also informative. Of those polled, 65 percent said they are helpful for learning more about candidates, and 51 percent responded that the debates are fun to watch.

Party politics
Although folks from either political persuasion have enjoyed the debates thus far, Republicans seem to find them more entertaining than Democrats, and the ratings reflect that divide.

According to Pew's online survey, 56 percent of Republicans believe the debates are fun to watch, compared to 50 percent of Democrats. For either political party, young people were the most likely to report that the debates are entertaining.

The Republican debates, headlined by a wide array of unique candidates, have enjoyed considerable success with television ratings. Deadline reported that CNN, Fox and other cable stations saw huge leaps in viewership because of the GOP debates. In August, 24 million Americans tuned in to see the first meeting of Republican candidates.

Two-screen experience
The debates aren't just big for television rankings. TV Media Insights stated that social media traffic also gains a boost when Republicans and Democrats get together. Each debate triggers millions of tweets and Facebook posts, especially in response to specific attacks or statements by the candidates. These events are smashing other other television programs that traditionally garner the most social media traffic like reality TV finales.

It seems the debates are as interesting and engaging as they've ever been. For anyone online during a presidential debate, taking paid surveys is a great way to make money online from home while tweeting about the latest political zinger.

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