From The Department Of "Wow!" (Nielsen Edition)

So the narrative going into this election cycle was that Democrats were super-motivated and Republicans were anything but. I guess I assumed that this would mean the Democratic National Convention would get a lot more eyeballs watching it than the Republican National Convention would–especially given that Barack Obama has charisma and star power and John McCain really doesn’t.

How wrong I was:

As a television draw, John McCain was every bit the equal of Barack Obama.

The GOP presidential candidate attracted roughly the same number of viewers to his convention acceptance speech Thursday as Obama did before the Democrats last week, according to Nielsen Media Research.

It marked the end of an astonishing run where more than 40 million people watched political speeches on three nights by Obama, McCain and Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. The Republican convention was the most-watched convention on television ever, beating a standard set by the Democrats a week earlier.

Three times in two weeks, political speeches were watched by more people than the “American Idol” finale, the Academy Awards and the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics this year.

“It clearly suggests that a great number of Americans think that who will be the next president is important and worthy of their time,” said Tom Rosenstiel, a former political reporter and director of the Project for Excellence in journalism.

It also appears to suggest that Republicans are able to garner voter interest and perhaps lots of interest from base voters whose support is absolutely needed if Republicans want to be competitive. Yet another data point to think about as we consider what the outcome of this election might be and whether all of those people who think that Barack Obama would win in a runaway landslide really have their finger on the pulse of the country.