LOS ANGELES (CNN) — Thursday night’s Democratic debate on CNN shattered the cable ratings record again last night, with more than 8.3 million viewers tuning in to see the party’s final two White House hopefuls battle it out.
Democratic presidential candidates New York Sen. Hillary Clinton and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama met on-stage at the Kodak Theater in front of a star-studded crowd just days before the critical Super Tuesday primaries, for their final official faceoff before voters in 22 states head to the polls February 5.
So far this cycle, CNN has broken the primary season record for debate viewership four times, and hosted the five most-watched presidential primary debates in cable news history. Thursday night’s debate was the second-most watched this cycle on any network, broadcast or cable.
The forum came just hours after Democratic presidential contender John Edwards ended his White House run.
After weeks of campaign trail fireworks between the remaining two presidential rivals, currently locked in a tight race for the Democratic nomination, the debate was an unexpectedly civil affair. The two candidates spent far more time highlighting their similarities than drawing attention to their differences.
The biggest applause line of the night was a question from moderators about whether Obama and Clinton might consider sharing a ticket.
“The audience response was the same as that of Democrats across the country: they’re happy with their choice this year, but they don’t want to have to make it,” said CNN Senior Political Analyst Bill Schneider.
Both Wednesday night’s Republican debate, and Thursday’s Democratic forum at the Kodak Theater in Los Angeles, were co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times and Politico.com.
With a race this close, observers are starting to plan with an eye towards post-Super Tuesday primary bouts. Thursday night, CNN announced plans for two more primary season debates, to be held February 27 and 28 in the crucial swing state of Ohio. Voters there head to the polls March 4.