Obama vs. Fall Out Boy: Who Is More Popular?

James Rainey of the L.A. Times (10/22/08) quotes a colleague dismissing the size of Barack Obama’s crowds as an indication of the Obama campaign’s chances in November:

“Fall Out Boy gets crowds this big,” Jonathan Weisman of the Wall Street Journal said at the Miami rally, referring to the pop punk band. “But I don’t think they are going to end up in the White House.

“You can’t learn anything about the outcome based on how big the crowd is,” Weisman continued. “These are the people who are already convinced.”

Of course, this is silly–you don’t compare the size of political rallies to rock concerts, but to other political rallies, and compared to other political rallies, Obama’s are quite large. But does Fall Out Boy really get crowds as big as Obama’s?

Weisman reported that the Miami rally drew 30,000. A few moments of Googling turned up this from a South African music blog:

And then came FOB. From song one to the last song an hour and a half later, they rocked and rocked and rocked a bit more. They played only one show in SA and last night was it. They also noted that the Jo-burg concert will be the biggest crowd that they play to the entire year. I think there were close to 20,000 people in the audience.

According to the blog, then–and I have no reason to believe that it’s any less accurate than the Wall Street Journal–the biggest crowd Fall Out Boy played to last year was one-third smaller than the crowd Weisman attributed to Obama–which was not a particularly big crowd as Obama rallies go.

It’s reminiscent of the argument made by right-wingers that an Obama rally in Portland that drew 75,000 was preceded by a free concert by The Decembrists, so the turnout didn’t really reflect Obama’s drawing power. Fans of the band pointed out that a typical Decembrist show will fill a club with a capacity of 1,200.

About Jim Naureckas

Extra! Magazine Editor Since 1990, Jim Naureckas has been the editor of Extra!, FAIR's monthly journal of media criticism. He is the co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error, and co-editor of The FAIR Reader: An Extra! Review of Press and Politics in the '90s. He is also the co-manager of FAIR's website. He has worked as an investigative reporter for the newspaper In These Times, where he covered the Iran-Contra scandal, and was managing editor of the Washington Report on the Hemisphere, a newsletter on Latin America. Jim was born in Libertyville, Illinois, in 1964, and graduated from Stanford University in 1985 with a bachelor's degree in political science. Since 1997 he has been married to Janine Jackson, FAIR's program director. You can follow Jim on Twitter at @JNaureckas.