According to metered market Nielsen data, MSNBC ‘s Democratic debate last night clocked about 4.5 million viewers, which would be the smallest debate of the political election cycle to date. Though it was a bit of a brawl — former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bashed Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders for his “artful smear” on her integrity when he compared her campaign financing to his — that would put last night’s debate on track to be the lowest rated of the political election cycle to date. That said, with these stats MSNBC will have scored a rare No. 1 finish in the slot among cable news networks last night with the debate, moderated by NBC News’ Chuck Todd and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.

One night earlier, CNN’s “town hall” with the two candidates clocked 2.7 million total viewers and 871,000 in the demo.

“I really don’t think these kinds of attacks by insinuation are worthy of you,” said Clinton, whose campaign had been shaken last week by Sanders virtual tie in the caucuses in Iowa – a state she had been expected to win handily. “Enough is enough! If you’ve got something to say, say it directly,” Clinton said last night during the campaign’s loudest moment, when Sanders pushed her button by repeatedly referencing her campaign’s big-money donors. Clinton’s team was stunned by Sanders’ near-victory in Iowa. Sanders, who is expected to best her in New Hampshire, took the high road instead, explaining to viewers the long history of special-interest groups financing Washington campaigners.

Clinton also took issue with Sanders referring to her as “establishment,” suggesting that’s not possible because she’s a woman running for president.

“Honestly, Senator Sanders is the only person who I think would characterize me, a woman running to be the first woman president, as exemplifying the establishment,” Clinton snarked.

The debate came together at “the last minute” and the cable news network could not run on-air promos until the night before the debate. The event wasn’t officially sanctioned by the DNC until shortly before 4 PM ET the previous day.

Not surprisingly, the stats suggests the debate came in well below the broadcast network Dem debates that had been on the DNC schedule for months. The lowest rated of that list to date was ABC’s debate December 19, which logged 8M total viewers and 1.6 mil in the news demo.