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Trump town hall draws in almost double the ratings of GOP debate

More viewers tuned in to Donald Trump’s town hall than to the head-to-head debate between Florida Gov Ron DeSantis and former South Carolina Gov Nikki Haley.

Wednesday night’s duelling displays proved favourable for Mr Trump, whose Fox News town hall was watched by 4.3 million people, according to Nielsen Media Research.

By contrast, Ms Haley and Mr DeSantis appeared on CNN at the same time but were only viewed by 2.6 million people.

The competing events were broadcast just days before the Iowa caucuses – the first-in-the-nation chance for voters to officially throw their support behind the candidates of their choice.

The Associated Press reported that the Trump campaign insisted to Fox that his town hall be held at the same time as the CNN debate on 10 January when his competitors would be going head-to-head.

The outlet noted that Fox News regularly has a higher viewership than CNN, so Mr Trump’s town hall numbers might not be the best indicator of how primary voters are feeling about the candidates.

The former president has yet to participate in any of the 2024 GOP debates. Still, Mr Trump has maintained a sizeable lead over his Republican rivals.

In recent weeks and months, several polls indicate that Ms Haley has crept into second place, creating a distance between herself and the rest of the once-crowded field.

The remaining competitors are Mr Trump, Ms Haley, Mr DeSantis, entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and former Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson – who is polling at less than one per cent, according to FiveThirtyEight.

On that same day, former New Jersey Gov Chris Christie announced he was dropping out of the race. He did not endorse any of the other candidates.