LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Tuesday's Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas hit the ratings jackpot for CNN.
The event, which featured such colorful conservative hopefuls as Herman Cain and Michele Bachmann, delivered 5.5 million total viewers and 1.6 million in the coveted adults 25-54 demographic.
The debate's viewership spiked 51 percent over CNN's September 12 Tea Party Express debate in Tampa, Fla.
It was the second most watched debate this year, trailing only last month's Republican showdown on cable news leader Fox News. CNN's flashy set and massive logo-flaunting cubes were no match for Fox News' September 22 debate coverage, which logged 6.1 million total viewers and 1.7 million in the 25-54 demographic.
Still, CNN produced bullish numbers and further evidence that, regardless of whether the GOP retakes the White House, viewers are enjoying the political theater on display during the debates.
Tuesday's square-off between the likes of Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Rick Perry propelled CNN to first place among its cable news brethren. CNN was top rated in both total viewers and in the key demo 25-54, topping second place Fox among total viewers (2.1 million) and in the 25-54 subset (493,000).
CNN also out-performed MSNBC among total viewers (747,000) and among the 25-54 crowd (179,000).