It isn't easy to tell how many people show up to a public event, at least when they are standing up. There have been some indications that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are drawing large, enthusiastic crowds, while President Obama is having a hard time filling rooms.
It is rather easier to determine what the campaigns think of their crowds. Romney supporters have been circulating a lot of photos of recent rallies. Case in point:
The Republican camp clearly thinks that the crowds look good. What about the Democratic camp?
The New York Times piously informs us that Obama is "drawing big crowds, but not like '08'. The undertow of the story, however, is indicated by these unintentionally hilarious paragraphs.
"We have plenty of time for big rallies," a campaign spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, said between the rallies on Thursday. "Our focus right now is on exciting our supporters and winning over undecided voters and the smaller and medium-size events are the best venue to accomplish that because the president can closely engage with the crowd."
Big rallies are expensive, especially given the logistical and security challenges for a president as opposed to a mere United States senator. And Obama campaign operatives, both at the Chicago headquarters and in swing states where Mr. Obama recently has stumped, say the campaign intentionally limits crowds by restricting tickets. The reason is to allow the president to better connect with supporters, aides say.
Now I ask you: what does that sound like? Eight letter word. Begins with 'b'. If the goofy evasion sounded vaguely familiar, Mark Steyn explains why.
ROB REINER: The last time Spinal Tap toured America, they were, uh, booked into 10,000 seat arenas, and 15,000 seat venues, and it seems that now, on their current tour they're being booked into 1,200 seat arenas, 1,500 seat arenas, and uh I was just wondering, does this mean uh…the popularity of the group is waning?
BAND MANAGER DAVID AXELROD: Oh, no, no, no, no, no, no…no, no, not at all. We have plenty of time for big stadium gigs. But our focus right now is on intentionally limiting crowds by restricting tickets – to allow the band to better connect with fans.
Obama continues to lead by a hair in the nationwide polls. He continues to show good numbers in battleground states. Almost all those polls, however, seem to assume a Democratic turnout advantage that would be larger than 2008. I don't think this is a case of biased polling. The Fox News poll that gave Obama a big lead also showed an unprecedented turnout advantage for Democrats. I do think that such an advantage this time round is very unlikely.
The New York Times story suggests enthusiasm for Obama among Democrats is significantly diminished this year compared to '08'. The Obama campaign isn't Spinal Tap on its final tour just yet, but Steyn's parody is dead spot on. When a presidential campaign explains that it is intentionally limiting the size of its campaign rallies in August, that is a campaign that thinks it has to explain something away.