The numbers on last night’s cable news ratings are pretty staggering. Matt Jones of Kentucky Sports Radio and Joe Sonka of InsiderLouisville were on MSNBC’s “The Last Word” to discuss Mitch McConnell’s unhinged performance on KSR yesterday morning and it seems the Big Blue Nation tuned in — big.
The Kentucky Sports Radio edition of MSNBC’s 10PM show resulted in nearly twice as many viewers on Wednesday night as they’d had on Monday night, and one and a half times the numbers from Tuesday. During the 10PM hour, the Jones/McConnell story helped MSNBC soundly defeat CNN in the nightly ratings war. (And that was despite CNN’s huge ratings coup with Mike Rowe’s new show as a lead in — people simply switched the channel at 10PM).
The Last Word’s 740,000 viewers represents a 230,000 increase for MSNBC over the previous night — and the real question here is how many of those extra 230,000 viewers were voters tuning in from the Big Blue Nation.
For some perspective, Lawrence O’Donnell’s show averaged 569,000 viewers in the 3rd Quarter of this year. On Monday night, the Last Word had 442,000 viewers — just 58,000 of them in the 25-54 demo. On Tuesday night, the Last Word pulled 511,000 viewers.
To put this in some further perspective, FOX News enjoyed its best quarter ever over the last three months. Sean Hannity’s 10P show averages 1.6 million viewers. On Monday night, as on almost every night, Hannity nearly tripled MSNBC’s 10P ratings. On Tuesday he more than tripled MSNBC’s 10P ratings. But on Wednesday, opposite Matt Jones, Hannity only doubled MSNBC. That may not seem like a big deal, but in cable ratings world, that’s huge. More important to Kentucky, it may well indicate a significant number of Big Blue Nation viewers deciding that for one night, at least, they didn’t want to get “Hannitized.”
These KSR/MSNBC numbers also likely reflect the fact that large numbers of people who normally ignore politics and never watch cable news — decided to tune in.
Last night, with Kentucky Sports Radio’s Matt Jones (and Insider Louisville’s Joe Sonka) leading off the show to discuss Mitch McConnell’s truly weird and very angry appearance on KSR Wednesday morning, MSNBC’s ratings boomed, with nearly three times as many viewers in that key demo (and likely more, given that the ratings breakdown when added up doesn’t actually make demographic sense unless all the rest were under 25 — KSR broke the ratings system).
It’s just the latest example of the KSR Effect. Here’s the MSNBC interview, if you missed it (and judging by those numbers, it’s unlikely that you did):
(If you’re curious, the two of them are sitting in a tiny room and are being instructed by producers to attempt to look at each other — which is why the two shot is a bit uncomfortable and entirely hilarious.)
And here’s McConnell’s unhinged call in full where at times it seemed like he might be doing a Kentucky Joe impersonation:
As we discussed on Monday, it is well within the realm of possibility that the 6-point swing in the Kentucky Senate race that put Alison Lundergan Grimes ahead 2 bigguns was due not to her laughable gun ad but rather to the three weeks preceding during which Mitch McConnell was running scared from Matt Jones and Kentucky Sports Radio.
That cause/effect — otherwise known as the KSR Effect — would clearly explain Mitch McConnell’s bizarre decision to place a surprise call in to KSR on Wednesday morning.
After weeks of dodging the most listened to radio show in the Commonwealth, despite having given his word to appear on it, McConnell called Jones directly (rather than scheduling in advance and coming into the studio) demanding to be put on the air immediately. What followed was a surreal 13 minute interview (McConnell claims it’s been 30 minutes before abruptly hanging up) during which the Minority Leader of the U.S. Senate seems unhinged, screaming at the radio host over largely inoffensive questions. McConnell was pissed, and the whole state heard it.
If the KSR Effect that created the KSR Bump in last night’s MSNBC ratings is the same KSR Effect that caused the swing in the Senate race’s poll numbers, then there’s no telling how McConnell’s belligerent and simply rude behavior on the state’s most listened to radio show will effect the next poll.
The McConnell people spent today trying desperately to change the subject to Grimes’ largely lackluster streaming performance at the Courier Journal editorial board — but the simple fact is, no one was watching that.
Everyone was listening to KSR… and McConnell and his campaign team blew it. They should have just gone on when they promised they would — instead, they got burned for three weeks and then Mitch went on the air live and burned himself. Like so many political mistakes, it was entirely preventable, and simply stupid. What’s with the screaming?
If there’s an October surprise in this race, right now it’s the KSR Effect.