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‘One Nation’ Rally: Liberal Media Concludes Size Doesn’t Matter

Another exclusive Pajamas Media crowd estimate.

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

October 3, 2010 - 12:01 am

The widely publicized, heavily subsidized “One Nation” rally was Saturday in Washington, D.C.  As has been openly admitted by the organizers, which included the AFL-CIO, the SEIU and Obama’s perpetual campaign organization Organizing for America, this rally was held in the same place and at basically the same time of the day as Glenn Beck’s 8/28 “Restoring Honor” rally, specifically to demonstrate the depth of support for the president’s program. The convention organizers had a number of advantages, perhaps the greatest being that the buses bringing in demonstrators were apparently subsidized by the rally organizers.

Some of the initial reports were very positive: the organizers estimated 175,000 to 200,000 attendees, according to Crooks and Liarsreport of  ”preliminary satellite estimates … at about noon EST [sic].”

(Where do they get these satellite estimates? PJM has been completely unsuccessful finding satellite companies that can give us these sorts of pictures on demand; there isn’t a satellite passing over Washington, D.C., any time you want one.)

Comments from Left Field notes this “more than doubles the 87,000 attendees of Glenn Beck’s Restoring the Honor Rally,” using the CBS News estimate I discussed at length here in August (“You Can See November from the Washington Monument”).

Naturally, we were interested in the topic. Following various crowd estimates has become a running topic of interest at PJ Media, starting with my original crowd estimates that began with a “back of the envelope” calculation in a comment at Vodkapundit, followed by a more formal calculation here in PJM (“March on Washington: How Big Was the Crowd?“).

Since then, I’ve built up a fairly well described methodology: we use Google Earth to estimate the area of the crowd from whatever photographs are available, then multiple by several different constants depending on the crowd density.  These estimates are taken from published Park Service standards going back at least to the Obama inaugural.

Since the “One Nation” rally was consciously positioned at exactly the same place as the “Restoring Honor” rally, we can compare with my original baseline very easily.

Here’s the crowd perimeter as I drew it with Google Earth:

That area was about 2.4 million square feet. Using the crowd density estimates, we finally arrived at these estimates for the Beck crowd:

Estimate 10 square feet per person 5 square feet per person 2.5 square feet per person
Maximum: 215,000 people 430,000 860,000
90 percent 200,000 400,000 800,000
75 percent 163,000 326,000 652,000
50 percent 108,000 216,000 432,000
CBS News Estimate 87,000 87,000 87,000
40 percent 86,000 172,000 344,000

The assumptions there correspond to the Park Service’s standard for a “dense crowd” of about 5 square feet per person, my estimate of the crowd densities observed in the photos (10 square feet per person), and estimates from people in the most densely packed parts of the crowd (2.5 square feet per person).

All things considered, I think the best estimate, finally, is that Beck attracted somewhere between 250,000 and 400,000 people.

The Associated Press summed it up this way:

Organizers claimed they had as many participants as Beck’s rally. But Saturday’s crowds were less dense and didn’t reach as far to the edges as they did during Beck’s rally.

This is illustrated in these comparative photographs:

Click here for a photo from Saturday’s left-wing rally.

Click here for a photo from the Glenn Beck rally.

Compare and contrast as necessary — as the lawyers say: “the thing speaks for itself.”

(Update: Or just click on the blinking gif created by blogger Doug Ross to compare the crowds at two events.)

It’s difficult to place the edges of the crowd from these photographs, simply because the crowd in that one overhead photo is so far down the picture. However, the grassy area around the Lincoln Memorial is roughly one tenth the area in the full map above.  That means the “One Nation” crowd would have been roughly 22,000 to 85,000 people at most.

Charlie Martin writes on science, health, culture and technology for PJ Media. Follow his 13 week diet and exercise experiment on Facebook and at PJ Lifestyle
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