Debates Face Off Against Playoffs

The political debates are getting some sporting competition — the baseball playoffs. Tuesday night's debate between Vice President Dick Cheney (search) and Democratic Sen. John Edwards (search) is up against Game 1 of the American League Division Series (search) between the New York Yankees and the Minnesota Twins.

While most of the TV networks are showing the debate, beginning at 9 p.m. EDT, Fox is airing the game, under way at Yankee Stadium at 8 p.m. EDT.

Four years ago, some 29 million viewers tuned in to the vice presidential debate between Cheney and Democratic Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut while 6.3 million chose to watch the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets.

The presidential campaigns are hoping for greater interest in the vice presidential debate than in 2000, especially in light of the strong numbers for last week's confrontation between Sen. John Kerry and President Bush.

Some 62.5 million Americans watched the presidential debate last Thursday, although it wasn't competing against a baseball playoff game. Viewership was up 34 percent from the first presidential debate in 2000.

The number of Americans watching baseball varies widely depending on the teams playing. In 2000, the "Subway Series" between the Yankees and the New York Mets averaged just 18.9 million viewers.

Tuesday night's game matched teams from New York, where Kerry is seen as the likely winner on Election Day, and Minnesota, which is one of the most competitive states.

Friday night, Bush and Kerry will debate in St. Louis while the Yankees face the Twins in Minnesota.