For one night only anyway, United States senate candidates Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias were the new stars of late-night television in Chicago.
A debate between the two politicians that aired at 10:35 p.m. Tuesday night on top-rated WLS-Channel 7 handily beat two well-known late night talkers in the overnight Nielsen TV ratings in the Chicago market. The Kirk-Giannoulias debate, hosted by ABC News chief political correspondent and "Good Morning America" co-anchor George Stephanopoulos, scored a whopping 5.0 rating (175,00 households). That easily bested the 2.8 rating (98,000) "The David Letterman Show" pulled on CBS-owned WBBM-Channel 2 and the 2.5 rating (87,500) for "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" on NBC-owned WMAQ-Channel 5.
No doubt the strong numbers for the debate, sponsored by the League of Women Voters and Channel 7, were in part a result of the continued intense media attention on the fight for the senate seat being waged between the two contenders. The fact the winner on Nov. 2 will fill the senate seat formally occupied by President Barack Obama only adds to the public's interest in the political battle.