See the 9/12 March on
Washington D.C. crowd estimates below, including
comparisons to past inaugurals. There was nearly 3 hours of
detailed video coverage on C-Span. Our own crowd
estimate at this time is 250,000+, plus tens of thousands at other
recent events nationwide.
Many news media sources largely ignored the 9/12 rally
while faithfully covering an Obama speech in Minneapolis where nothing
newsworthy was said. He repeated the same talking points as in his
prime time address to a joint session of Congress a few days earlier.
This transparent attempt to divert public attention from the 9/12
protest was a failure, and further discredited the news media and White
Glenn Beck talked mainly
about his own ideas for fighting corruption in both parties on 9/12, but
at least Fox News covered the Tea Party Express rallies which led up to
the protest on the National Mall.
September 12, 2009 - Fox News video of the 9/12 March on Washington
September 12, 2009 - Fox News video of US Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and
Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) on restoring America - to "turn this thing
The aerial photo below was found (without
attribution to the source of the image) on various blogs which asserted
that it showed the 9/12 rally. Some sources now
affirm that it is fake - which is very plausible. It was
probably taken more than 5 years ago, prior to the completion of a new
museum which should appear at the corner of 4th and Independence Ave in
the upper right. The stage by the reflecting pool at the head of
the crowd also appears to be different than the 9/12 rally.
Google map and related
satellite view of the National Mall for perspective. If you
zoom in on the area by
4th and Independence in the satellite image, you can see the
distinctive National Museum of the American Indian (a building which has
no corners on the exterior by design). That building is obviously
missing from the aerial photo above - so the aerial photo clearly was
NOT taken on 9/12/09. The origin of the photo is not yet
clear, but perhaps it was a concert or other major event on the Mall.
It would not be an inaugural photo because the trees have leaves and
there is no crowd close to the Capitol.
Compare the actual crowd images
from attendees and news media coverage to
pictures from the Obama inaugural in January 2009. The main
difference is that nobody was allowed close to the Capitol building on
9/12, unlike ticketed guests for inaugural ceremonies in the ellipse
area between the west face of the Capitol and the reflecting pool.
Obama fled the city on 9/12 to speak to 15,000 supporters at a
staged event in Minneapolis to push his health care agenda. Even
fairly conservative news media estimates for the crowd size in
Washington DC were 60,000 - 75,000 or more, with some estimates
at well over 100,000. If you look at the C-Span video
coverage of the 9/12 rally and prior inaugural crowd images, that still
seems to be conservative.
As explained below, we think the total was probably
closer to 250,000, and perhaps much higher.
Crowd size estimates depend upon assumptions about how tightly the crowd
was packed. As evidenced by reliable photographs and video
coverage on the ground, the higher estimates (based on 2.5 sq ft per
person on average) seems quite plausible for areas close to the front of
the event, but even a much lower estimate (based on 5 sq ft or more)
vastly exceeds the media reports of "tens of thousands".
Estimates of 1.25 - 1.65 million used by the news
media for the Obama inaugural crowd assumed as little as 2.0 sq ft per
person on the National Mall. Those were based upon satellite image
analysis performed in London, but the satellite image shown with that
analysis was of the ticketed area near the Capitol (i.e., the most
densely packed area). The estimate is plausible for the available
space and crowd photos, but assumes a very high crowd density and may be
excessive - as on election night in Chicago.
For simplicity, the space where the crowd was
concentrated in the middle of the Mall (as in the aerial photo above -
regardless of what event it actually shows) is roughly 5000 feet long
and 500 feet wide, excluding a similar amount of space in the
areas under the trees where even more people were gathered on this hot,
Do the math. That's around 2.5 million sq ft out
in the open, or around 5 million sq ft in total (including the area
under the trees). If you assume 2.5 sq ft per person (tightly
packed crowd) just in the open space down the middle of the Mall, that
would be 1 million people (without adding anybody under the trees or
elsewhere at the time of any particular photo).
At a lower average density of 5.0 sq ft per person (as
in past official crowd estimates), that would be 500,000 people in that
open area alone (completely excluding the area under the trees).
To arrive at an estimate of only 100,000 people, by
the same logic, you would have to assume 25 sq ft per person (i.e., a
5x5 space average) or that the crowd covered fewer blocks of the Mall
than the videos and photos on the ground reveal. Once again, the
photos on the ground show considerable crowds under the trees closer to
the Capitol at the front of the event. That offsets the much
thinner crowds closer to 14th Street by the Washington Monument at the
For a conservative protest, the turnout was massive,
as can be seen by comparison to major Republican inaugural celebrations
as listed below. It is obviously much easier to attract large
crowds of Democrats to inaugurals or protests in Washington DC (and to
get news media to accept the large crowd estimates without question). Many of
the 9/12 participants travelled great distances from all over the
country just to be there at significant personal expense, as various
real journalists noticed. That is very different from getting many
residents from the Washington DC area to attend a major event.
For those who dispute the enormous
crowd size, look through the C-Span video coverage
or the selection of
photos shared at StealthFusion or other sources. This crowd
may not have been as tightly packed as some events on the National Mall in the past, but the
Today graphic (from January 20, 2009) gave estimates for reference
from past inaugural celebrations.
The National Park Service stopped providing official
crowd estimates after political controversy about their estimate that
the "million man march" in 1995 was much smaller than the
organizers had predicted or claimed, with only around 400,000 people.
Some academics claimed 800,000+, but not 1 million.
2009 Barack Obama inaugural - see this
ABC News blog with crowd estimates based upon analysts in London
who used satellite imagery and assumptions about varying crowd density levels
in different parts of the National Mall. They estimated between
1 and 1.4 million people on the National Mall, plus around 240,000
ticketed guests closer to the Capitol. Note that the estimate
included tight crowd densities as high as 2 sq ft per person (unlike
2.5 - 5.0 reportedly used by the Park Service for past events on the
Mall). The image shown with the story is of the tightly packed
crowd in the ticketed area near the Capitol.
reference, here's a map showing a 1 mile radius from 1st Street on the
west side of the Capitol to 14th Street, where the crowd breaks up in
front of the Washington Monument.
Other observers noted how
friendly and well-behaved this spirited crowd was in general.
There were few reported incidents, but a few people were upset about
alleged ACORN activists trying to sell Gadsden flags to the crowd as a
way to profit from the event. There's a YouTube video about that
September 12, 2009 - Fox News / AP -
Tea Party Express Takes Washington By Storm - see also a related
story about Democratic gamesmanship with false projections of unrealistic
crowd size as a tactic to try to brand the event as a failure.
The success of the event soon made that tactic irrelevant, but many in
the news media still treated it as a very minor news item worthy of only
brief coverage. By contrast, there was considerable coverage of
Obama's speech to a staged rally in Minneapolis even though there was
virtually nothing new or newsworthy in what he said there. It was
just a PR diversion.
PowerLine blog - text of
speech given by US Representative Mike Pence (R-IN) at the 9/12
March on Washington DC. Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) was another
featured speaker, as was Representative Tom Price (R-GA). The
event was not, however, organized by the Republican party or affiliated
Fox News report of August 23 prior to the start of the
Tea Party Express tour. Fox News also has Griff Jenkins covering the tour through
the "Great American blog" related to Sean Hannity's show.
Liberty Tour - September 10 - October 13 - is another multistate
tour to encourage local political activism. This is a project of
the American Liberty Alliance, American Majority, and Americans for
not entirely clear what role "The
912 Project" participants and Glenn Beck (Fox
News) played. The Glenn Beck
website and his show shared some information as plans developed, which
helped to spread the word.
Glenn chose to cover the 9/12 protest in
Washington DC from his studio in New York.
had started promoting a "March to Save America" in Washington DC on
9/12/09, as shown by this enthusiastic "Thomas Paine" video. That
was cancelled, but FreedomWorks and other sponsors organized the 9/12 rally as indicated above. This video
remains entertaining anyway.
Express news coverage - ignored by many networks, but reported by Fox
August 29 - Tea Party Express starts in Sacramento, CA with around 5000
people and in Reno, Nevada as stop #2. Note the originality of all
the signs, as in the other Tea Party protests and rallies, unlike the "astroturf"
organizers such as professional activists who show up with
professionally designed and printed pro-Obama signs to hand out.
There are few such counter-protesters at this point.
September 2, 2009 - Tea Party Express coverage in Las Cruces, New Mexico
- Day 5, 9th stop and coverage of the earlier visit to Albuquerque, NM
September 3, 2009 - Tea Party Express arrives in Waco, Texas - Day 7,
12th stop and earlier stop in San Antonio, TX