McCain helps 'SNL' to strong ratings

Final pre-election show was second-best this year

NEW YORK -- The last "Saturday Night Live" before Tuesday's election -- and featuring a joint appearance by John McCain and Tina Fey as running mate Sarah Palin -- didn't disappoint in the ratings.

"SNL" averaged a 9.0 household rating/20 share in the metered markets, according to preliminary data released Sunday by Nielsen Media Research. Final data will be out later this week, but it was another strong performance by the late-night sketch show, which was hosted by Ben Affleck.

Saturday night's show was only upstaged in the ratings this year -- and since 1997 -- by the Oct. 18 "SNL" where Palin made an actual appearance. That show, which averaged a 10.7 rating/24 share and eventually more than 13 million viewers, was the highest-rated "SNL" since 1994.

As it was, this episode was the second-highest-rated episode in more than a decade, since the Christmas-themed "SNL" of Dec. 20, 1997.

McCain, who guest hosted in 2002, appeared in two skits. The first was the opening, where he and Fey answered Barack Obama's "roadblock" 30-minute ad on Wednesday night with a fake QVC telethon. Also on board for that skit was McCain's wife, Cindy McCain.

The candidate made another appearance, like Palin, on "Weekend Update," where he told anchor Seth Meyers that he had settled upon several radical new strategies in the final days of the campaign.

One strategy was "The Sad Grandpa."

"That's where I get on TV and say, 'C'mon, Obama's going to have plenty of chances to be president. It's my time. Vote for me,' " McCain said.

Meyers replied: "I don't know if I'd do that."