Sunday, September 13, 2009

"Thousands March on Washington"
Mike Rappaport

according to the New York Times headline.  The body of the story mentions tens of thousands, and a sea of protesters.  That is, I suppose, as far as the Times can get itself to go in reporting.  Well, that's close.  According to other reports, its millions, but what's a few zeros when politics are involved? 

You know, Obama wanted to be a consequential president like Reagan.  He may just get his wish.  It is quite an accomplishment to revive a conservative movement that had been deemed dead by liberals and conservatives alike.   

Update: Ok, there is clearly a great deal of controversy about the number of marchers and the millions number appears to be an everestimate.  But as Matt Welch says (and one commentator agrees):

Big crowd. Do not believe any description that says "thousands." If there weren't at least a healthy six figures there, I will permanently revoke my head-counting license.

Of course, the key point is the consistency of how things are reported. Right next to the headline in the Times about the thousands in Washington, the headline reports thousands are rallying in Minnesota for Obama's health care plan -- but the story indicates that the White House estimated 15 thousand, which suggests the real figure is even smaller.  So a hundred thousand and at most 15 thousand are reported the same way.  What a shock.

Further Update: How Big Was That Crowd?  Via Instapundit.

| Permalink

TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference "Thousands March on Washington"
Mike Rappaport


Look, this business of crowd-counting--while not an exact science--isn't just guesswork either.

I watched the rally on the Mall on Glen Beck's show last night. Someone said that it's a mile from the Capitol to the Washington Monument, and that the intervening space was "filled with people".

OK, let's suppose that's true. Let's also assume that the frontage involved is about 100 feet (obviously you can insert your own, more accurate figure: I was doing this off-the-cuff). So that's ( 1 mi = ~5000 ft x 100 ft = ) about 500,000 square feet, "filled with people."

How much space does one person occupy in a crowd? They didn't look all that packed in to me, nothing like what you see at (say) parades. So say each person was taking up about a 2x2 or maybe 3x3 space. That would be about 4-9 sqft each. At 9 sqft/person, we're talking roughly 50-60,000 people (500,000 / 9). At 4 sqft/person, it would be about 125,000 people.

The obvious conclusion is that we are talking about roughly a hundred thousand people, but nowhere near a million, let alone two million.

Posted by: David Hecht | Sep 13, 2009 9:19:09 AM

Here's how the Park Service does it:

They use 2.5 square feet, which seems small to me...well, maybe not. That's a radius of nearly 11 inches, which is similar to your 2x2 box but without the corners. But still 5/8 the area per person.

Also, the Mall is more like 500 feet across (the picture Malkin posted of the crowd from the webcam shows Pennsylvania Ave, which is about 100 feet across though). That's almost a factor of ten between the two though and could start pushing a million. From the USA Today pic, 1.2 million is doable, maybe more if it spills out past the Monument and with stragglers on Pennsylvania Ave. Really should wait for better air pics though.

Posted by: Jethro | Sep 13, 2009 11:17:53 AM

I was there. I think the 60-70,000 estimate that the fire department gave sounds right. Even Fox and the Washington Times say tens of thousands. And none of the higher figures that I have seen are backed up by sources.

Also, I live in DC, which has a population of about 550,000. There is just no way that there were an extra 500,000 people here yesterday, much less millions. In my neighborhood, which is less than a mile from the White House, there was no effect whatsoever -- no people with signs or t-shirts, no extra cars, just a typical Saturday. During the Inauguration, it was obviously busier and more crowded.

Posted by: bailey | Sep 13, 2009 11:27:15 AM

0.3 x 1.4mi = (1584ft x 7392ft) = 11,708,928 ft^2 (Mall)

346yds x 1.07mi (1038ft x 5649.6ft) = 5,864,284.8 ft^2 (Pennsylvania Ave)

11,708,928 + 5,864,284.8 = 17,573,212.8ft^2 total

assume 2.5ft x 2.5ft area per person = 6.25 ft^2/person

17,573,212.8ft^2 / 6.25 ft^2/person

2,811,714.048 people MAX

Cut this into 1/3 for error, voids, buildings, etc.---> 937,238

Posted by: Mike in Green Bay | Sep 14, 2009 8:38:12 PM