The easygoing, conservative-minded, regular-guy attitudes exuded by Jay Leno (and his conservative, regular-guy sense of humor) have always been more popular than the satiric-minded, vaguely jaded, oddball urban attitudes exuded by the effete smarty-pants David Letterman. So it goes among regular tube-watchers out there, who probably have more in common with Giants or Boston Red Sox fans than they do with theatregoers, book-readers or opera lovers.
N.Y. Times reporter Bill Carter has written that “after returning to regular shows on Jan. 2nd, Leno averaged about 5.2 million viewers on NBC while Letterman on CBS has averaged 4.1 million. Last week Leno pulling in 5 million viewers compared to 3.6 million for Letterman. It will always be this way. Johnny Carson was always vastly more popular than Dick Cavett, etc. This is Amurrica. Pass the mashed potatoes.