Monday, September 13, 2010

9/12 Tea Party Crowd Size

The St. Louis tea party is claiming that "14,000" people showed up for their 9/12 rally (one of three national tea party rallies in the country). Now if they had said 15,000, everyone would know that they were pulling the number out of their behinds, but 14,000? That sounds so exact! How did they get the number?

Someone asked that question:

And here was the response:

Hmmm, so the estimate comes from a "painstaking count" from a tea party blogger. And not only that, but a tea party blogger who has admitted in the past that he's willing to deliberately spread false information and not correct it in order to "show those durn unions:"
So we'll call it three and a half correct accusations by Dana, and one that could have been worded better, but couldn't be defended without tipping off SEIU to information that I chose to not reveal. I provided that information to Dana, and so any fault is mine - but a correction could not be provided until now.
Needless to say, I'm not convinced. But their estimate is made even more interesting by this revelation from tea partier Darin Morley:
Jim Hoft, the Gateway Pundit, has a great writeup with accompanying photos. He puts the attendance at 14,000. I think that's possible. Due to the length of the event and the intensity of the sun all afternoon, it really wasn't practical for people to stay for the whole thing.
So now it sounds like 14,000 wasn't an actual count, but rather an "estimate" based on the fact that people couldn't stay the whole time (in other words, they decided that they had to enlarge the count because the numbers at any one time are not representative of everyone who came and went). Hmm, why does that sound familiar?

The best estimate I've seen so far comes from Bill Streeter:
So I measured the area on the steps of the arch with Google maps and it looks like there is about 60,000 sq ft of space there. And I'm guessing thats where they are getting their 14,000 number. Because if you pack the steps with people (4 square ft per person, is fairly tight--think concert venue thats crowded but not quite packed) you could have about 14 k there. But looking at the photos I don't think the density of the crowd was more than 20 sq ft per person which would put it at more like 2,500-3,000 people.
20 square feet per person might sound like a lot, but keep in mind that it is a little less than the square feet of a space of 4.5 ft by 4.5 ft. I tried to do an informal count when I was there by counting the number of people in a small area, and then estimating how many of those "small areas" would be needed to cover the whole space, and I got around 2,500 (this was during the middle of the event, when it was presumably at it's most crowded). My method was pretty informal and I have no idea how reliable it is, but it does match up pretty closely with Bill's thoughtful answer. They definitely were not packed as tightly as 4 square ft per person.

So basically this rally had about as many people as the rally in Kiener Plaza last year (whether you go with the high or the low estimates). But since the rally in Kiener was only for the St. Louis area, and yesterday's rally was one of three national rallies with groups being bussed and flown in from all over the midwest, the number of people attending from Missouri has actually dropped quite a bit.


  1. I saw an estimate from someone who attended - who does this sort of thing quite often - that said the absolute most they had there at one time was 4,000. Now, if people came and went all day, I suppose it is *possible* that 14,000 showed up at one time or another. I doubt it, seriously, but it's possible.

  2. Ok, first of all, the comments about the sun being too much and people not being to stay the whole time is the most ridiculous excuse I've heard for their inflated numbers yet. Um, it was GORGEOUS yesterday. You couldn't ask for better weather for a rally. And wasn't it four hours long? Is that really that long? I mean, I was at the Stray Recue event a few weeks back for that long and didn't think it was a big deal.

    I think it speaks to how undedicated these "true patriots" really are to their cause. If you are a believer in their "message", but can't bother to attend a national rally for four hours in ideal weather, how committed are they really?


  3. I've been to a lot of different events. There were about 6,000 people there.

  4. It was easy to walk amongst the faithful yesterday because the steps were never crowded or packed. None of the sheep were on the grassy knoll in front of the Arch either. Having attended the Tea Party rally in Arnold this spring where a similar crowd numbered about 2,500, I can say with certainty that the party goers under the Arch were near that number. Given that the Tea Party faithful followed the Koch Brothers star from Illinois, Ohio, Kansas, Iowa, Arkansas and of course St. Charles, I found it surprising that their numbers were so deflated.

  5. Adam,
    has anyone thought to check hotel vacancy rates? That should give some indication of the "national turnout" I would bet someone from tourism and visitors could give a idea of what a shift in vacancy means. For instance normal vacancy during a Ram's game vs Saturday/Sunday. To get fancy one might want to deduct Sundays turnout vs average turn out last year.

  6. These people were probably more likely to attend the Scott AFB Air Show which was going on at the same time. Nobody thought to check that as well. 14,000 is an estimate that strains credulity. Channel 4 was very sympathetic to the TP's and I was very disappointed in their coverage. They interviewed Peter Kinder and Dick Morris, yes failing to point out that he is a commentator for Fox News and thus indicative of Fox's support for them.