Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R) kicked off his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination against President Trump with appearances on Twitter Spaces and the Fox News Channel Wednesday night. Initial ratings for both were underwhelming: 300,000 listeners for Twitter and 1.9 million viewers for Fox. In comparison, Trump drew 3.3 million viewers for his CNN town hall earlier this month and over four times the number of viewers in the key demo 25-54 than DeSantis.
DeSantis was interviewed by former Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) on Fox and on Twitter Spaces by owner Elon Musk and billionaire investor David Sacks. The Twitter interview was marred by major technological failures that were blamed by Musk and DeSantis on alleged demand crashing the servers. Various reports put the demand at between 500,000 and 600,000 at the glitch-filled start, with 300,000 remaining when DeSantis finally spoke. An encouraging sign for DeSantis is the archive of the Twitter Space shows 3.9 million “tuned in” as of Friday morning. However, that number likely includes multiple attempts by the same users to try to listen during the live fiasco Wednesday night.
The DeSantis campaign is touting $8.2 million dollars in donations in the 24 hours after the campaign launch. However, questions are being raised about the DeSantis fundraising operation with a report by NBC News that DeSantis Florida government officials are soliciting campaign donations from lobbyists with business dealing in Florida.
Mediaite reported on the 8 p.m. Wednesday ratings when DeSantis appeared on Fox:
FOX NEWS TONIGHT (Gowdy): 1,955,000; CNN ANDERSON COOPER 360:511,000; MSNBC ALL IN W/ CHRIS HAYES: 1,493,000; Newsmax ERIC BOLLING THE BALANCE: 426,000; Newsnation CUOMO: 154,000
In the key demo, viewers aged 25-54, DeSantis barely topped MSNBC 186,000 to 179,000.
Axios reported that Trump’s May 10 CNN town hall drew 3,300,000 viewers with over 780,000 in the key 25-54 demo.
Former Fox News host Megyn Kelly pointed out the ratings disaster for DeSantis, “Don’t be fooled by the headline about Fox “crushing” Twitter Spaces – the news here is that EVEN WITH DESANTIS on the night of his announcement, the 8p on FNC failed to break 200k in the demo (25-54 yr olds). Just awful #s.”
Don’t be fooled by the headline about Fox “crushing” Twitter Spaces – the news here is that EVEN WITH DESANTIS on the night of his announcement, the 8p on FNC failed to break 200k in the demo (25-54 yr olds). Just awful #s. https://t.co/BHbOoMPSGm
— Megyn Kelly (@megynkelly) May 25, 2023
Fox News announced Sean Hannity will host a town hall with Trump in Iowa on June 1.
HANNITY TOWN HALL: On June 1, “Hannity” will host a town hall with former President Trump in Iowa! Tune in at 9 PM ET or set your DVR! pic.twitter.com/1pLqS1ZCov
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) May 26, 2023
KCCI-TV reported the town hall will be taped in advance. Trump is also scheduled to speak at an event that morning (excerpt):
The former president will speak on June 1 at the morning meeting of the Westside Conservative Club at the Machine Shed restaurant in Urbandale.
He’ll then participate in a town hall hosted by Sean Hannity, Fox News has announced. That event will be pre-taped in Clive and will air at 8 p.m. that night.
Trump’s campaign also confirmed to KCCI that he plans to have a private meeting with local pastors during his visit.
Trump’s visit to Iowa comes after he canceled a May 13 rally set for Des Moines due to area-wide tornado threats.
An Emerson College poll released Thursday shows Trump crushing DeSantis in Iowa, 62 percent to 20 percent.