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For every six Republican debate-watchers, one watched Trump instead

Former president Donald Trump is very excited about the success of his conversation with Tucker Carlson at attracting attention. Over on Truth Social, the social media network created by and for Donald Trump, he touted that the interview posted on X, the social media network renamed by and for Elon Musk, had “231,000,000 Views, and still counting.” This, he said, made it the “Biggest Video on Social Media, EVER, more than double the Super Bowl!”

This is not true, which perhaps you suspected, coming from the biggest-inaugural-crowd-ever guy. As The Washington Post’s Will Oremus explained Wednesday evening, that figure includes any view of the post containing the video, not the video itself. And even if it were “views” of the video, X only requires that people view a few seconds of video for a “view” to be counted.

Trump’s goal, of course, is to suggest that he is a far bigger draw than the Republican presidential primary debate that was underway when the Carlson conversation was published. (Perhaps you suspected this, coming from the my-inaugural-crowd-was-bigger-than-Obama’s guy.) But polling conducted by Ipsos for The Post and FiveThirtyEight suggests that likely Republican primary voters were quite a bit more likely to tune into the debate.

Overall, most of that pool of likely primary voters watched neither. About two-thirds of those included in our poll reported not tuning in to the debate, even in part. (The other third was about evenly split between those who watched the whole thing and those who only watched a bit of it.) Within that two-thirds who didn’t watch, 7 percent reported watching Trump and Carlson instead. That’s about 5 percent of the total.

So for every three people who watched the whole debate, one watched Trump-Tucker.

One might suspect that those who watched Trump’s conversation with Carlson were more fervent supporters of the president. One would be correct. Within that subgroup, about 9 in 10 had previously reported viewing Trump favorably, with 85 percent of the group viewing him very favorably. Among those who didn’t watch the debate, about 6 in 10 viewed him favorably, the same as the group who did watch at least some of the debate.

Your next thought, then, might be that those Trump superfans simply said they watched the conversation with Carlson even when they didn’t. And that’s certainly possible. But remember that Trump is polling over 50 percent in national primary polling, meaning that having one-tenth of that figure say they watched his counterprogramming really isn’t very impressive.

What’s more, about four times as many respondents said they spent the time watching something else on TV or watched a movie. In other words, given a number of choices for what they were doing, a lot of people simply fessed up to not watching anything political. And even more copped to watching nothing at all. More than twice as many respondents said they slept as said they watched Trump talk to Carlson.

The former president would probably take these numbers and try to brag about how he got one viewer for every three people who watched the whole debate (or for every six who watched part of it, but he would not use that number). Remember, though, that our poll, like X’s metrics, don’t demand that someone watched the whole conversation. Some portion of the 5 percent who tuned in to Trump didn’t actually watch much of it.

Personally, I watched all of both. I am what’s known as “an outlier.”

Emily Guskin contributed to this report.

This post appeared first on The Washington Post

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