Rachel Maddow's Surge Is Fox News' Worst Ratings Nightmare

Rachel Maddow's Surge Is Fox News' Worst Ratings Nightmare

After prophesying a landslide win for Mitt Romney, Fox News has seen its ratings decline a lot more than usual since the election — and Sean Hannity's viewers in particular keep disappearing, while Rachel Maddow's continue to tune in over at rival MSNBC.

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The last batch of Nielsen data available before year's end shows Hannity's viewership getting chopped in half after November 6, according to the New York Daily News's Don Kaplan. Politico's Dylan Byers argues this decline simply brings Hannity back to pre-election norms. Or perhaps these vanishing viewers are just disgruntled voters who can't stomach the news cycle anymore. Kaplan, however, attributes this decline to Hannity's implied predictions: 

... viewers who basked in his preelection anti-Obama rhetoric tuned him out when they were stunned to wake up on Nov. 7 and discover that the President had won a second term — a scenario that Hannity had all but promised could never happen.

MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz — who both, of course, did not predict a Romney victory — have retained most of their viewership in the weeks following election night, and CNN's Anderson Cooper has lost almost none. With ratings holding strong after Obama's reelection and Maddow appearing on The Colbert Report, it appears like MSNBC is making good on president Phil Griffin's plan to bolster the channel's brand awareness

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But these trends may began long before Hannity and other Fox News commentators led viewers to believe Romney was a shoe-in. Media blog News Corpse notes that throughout 2012, Fox News experienced by far the slowest year-over-year growth amongst the three major cable news channels. And even though MSNBC has captured many more eyeballs within the lucrative 25-54 demographic, Fox News still retains primetime dominance in the world of 24-hour TV news. What's left for CNN next year, well, that's up to new boss Jeff Zucker to decide.