From The Wall Street Journal:
When Barack Obama claimed the Democratic nomination before 17,000 people last week, with thousands more outside unable to get in, it was notable but not surprising. He routinely draws huge crowds. That same night, John McCain spoke to about 600 supporters. That was routine, too.
The differences were particularly noticeable this past Tuesday, when both of their speeches were televised. Sen. Obama, the Democratic candidate for president, is among the most gifted speakers in recent politics. Sen. McCain’s speech-making abilities have improved, but both Democrats and Republicans say that he still comes across as stilted and awkward.
Sen. Obama routinely draws thousands of people to his rallies; a small Obama event might include 2,600 people. Sen. McCain’s crowds are typically measured in the hundreds, though the campaign estimates that one event, in Prescott, Ariz., drew 3,000 people.
In the frenzied final weeks of competitive Republican primaries, Sen. McCain never drew more than about a thousand people. Most events were held in restaurants and other small venues.
That hasn’t changed much in the months since he became the likely nominee. Sometimes the campaign sets up ballrooms or gymnasiums so that chairs only fill part of the space to avoid empty seats.
Occasionally, a large room is packed, such as the Milwaukee high school where he held a town-hall meeting in late May. Even then, attendance, including the overflow room, was only about 1,400, according to the campaign.
By contrast, Sen. Obama has attracted about 20,000 people to a dozen rallies and held two dozen others with about 10,000 people. He addressed 75,000 people at an outdoor rally in Portland, Ore.