When it Comes to Crowds, Does Size Matter?

Sep 22, 2008 4:45pm

ABC News’ Andy Fies reports: While his acceptance speech before 85,000 at Denver’s Mile High Stadium may have been the high point of Senator Obama’s campaign, most of his events since clinching the nomination have been of the smaller "town hall style"  variety.

But over the past couple of weeks, he has has had a series of events in big venues with huge crowds that were the hallmark of his primary campaign: 20,000 just yesterday in Charlotte (featuring people waiting in line for  3 hours), about the same number at a Jacksonville rally the day before (12,000 inside the venue, plus another 8,000 overflow),  8,000 jammed an arena in Coral Gables on Friday, 14,000 at a minor league ball park in Las Vegas on Wednesday. 

But once again, as it was during the primaries, it’s worth asking what do the crowds mean?

One of his most enthusiastic crowds of recent days was the nearly 15,000 who greeted him in Pueblo, CO Monday evening.  Considering that the population of that city is just over 100,000, that is a huge draw.

But the Pueblo Chieftain newspaper was not impressed that more than 10 percent of its hometown showed up for the Obama rally.  Yesterday the paper endorsed his Republican rival, Sen. John McCain. 

One may quickly note that newspaper endorsements are about as meaningful on election day as crowd sizes. In New Hampshire during the primary, when his huge crowds suggested he would win handily and he did not, the significance of the large crowds has been in question.

The Chieftain endorsement is a further reminder of that discrepency.

Now Republican runningmate Gov. Sarah Palin draws crowds like Obama’s…25,000 in Miami on Sunday.  Will there also be for McCain/Palin, as there has been for Obama, a question mark over the significance of those crowds?

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