By Tim Kenneally

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) - Here’s an interesting snapshot of where we’re at as a nation: On Thursday night, more people tuned in to watch Pauly D, Vinny and their pumpkin-hued cohorts run amok in Italy than tuned in to watch the potential next leader of the free world make his case for election.

The second season of “Jersey Shore” Season 4 drew 7.4 million total viewers -- more than nearly every network offering on Thursday, and a far sight more than the Republican candidates’ debate on Fox, which took in just over 5 million total viewers.

“Shore” also garnered a 7.1 rating in the 12-34 demographic, which means that the show now holds the top 15 cable slots in that demo for this year, barring sports broadcasts.

The fourth season of “Jersey Shore” premiered last week, scoring 8.8 million total viewers --- the most-watched season premiere in MTV’s 30-year history.

Maybe Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the presidential contenders should slap on the Fake Bake, pouf up their hair and develop a penchant for getting in bar fights.