If there was any doubt about viewer -- or electorate -- interest in the Republican debate which aired on Fox News Thursday night, that was effectively dispelled a short while ago: A record 24 million people watched, making this, in the declaration of the network, "the highest rated non-sports telecast" in cable history.

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An FNC statement added -- with well-disguised glee -- that the debate was a :driving force on social media. Nielsen Social TV ratings ranked the debate as the number one event on Twitter last night with 3.3 million tweets and 393 million impressions, beating Jon Stewart's farewell episode."

 The vast turnout was high by any standard -- cable or broadcast.  Of other non-sports programs on the broadcast networks, only major awards telecasts -- or specifically the Grammys and Oscars -- typically attract audiences of that magnitude.