We see this from the National Journal [emphasis added]:
…the State of the Union address both one of the great opportunities for any president running for another term and one of the best advantages that an incumbent enjoys over a challenger.
Start with the setting: the ornate chamber of the House of Representatives, where so much history has been made. Add in the cheering members who reach out to touch the president as he strides down the aisle and the speaker of the House forced to sit attentively behind him during the speech, showing respect for the leader of the other party. Then factor in the audience arrayed before the president—diplomats, Supreme Court justices, and uniformed leaders of the armed forces. And don’t forget the audience outside the chamber: For his first two State of the Union speeches, Obama was watched by 48 million Americans in 2010 and 43 million in 2011.
The stature gap with his challengers could not be wider. Other than in televised debates (when he was getting beat up by the other candidates), Republican front-runner Mitt Romney has been riding his campaign bus to diners, delis, drafty school gyms, church halls, and barns. His biggest audience on a good day? Maybe 1,000, but usually in the dozens. His attire? Often jeans and an open collar. And the perks? Well, his son Tagg tweeted a photo this month of the candidate crouched down on the bus trying to duct-tape shut a vent blowing cold air on him.
All we lack are the Roman columns. Which candidate is addressing the people of the United States?