Sunday, January 11, 2009

So just how many people are going to show up?

Speculation is rampant (we even have bets being taken in the office) on how many people are actually going to show up a week from Tuesday in D.C. At one point the media was speculating that four million people were going to show, but in recent days that number has dropped considerably.

We do know that when the 5,000 tickets for the Inaugural Parade went on sale on Friday, they were all sold in less than sixty seconds. The tickets to the Inauguration itself are in the hands of legislators on Capitol Hill and they have been promised for months. The tickets to the Inaugural balls are still floating around, but most of those are for parties that won't have a visit from the new president.

At least, that's the case right now. If the temperature drops, anything goes.

I've been to three Inaugurations: Ronald Reagan 1980, George Bush 1988, and George W. Bush 2005. I had tickets to a 4th (Reagan 1884) but it was moved inside the Capitol due to the frigid temps outside (though we and thousands more marched the next day in the March for Life 1984 that will never be forgotten - I felt like the little kid in Christmas Story) and so the tickets remain a collectors item. I had tickets to the last inauguration and that was also unforgettable - we all spent hours going through security. Expect that the security measures have been technologically improved since then - but it still took hours to get scanned and searched before going on to the Capitol grounds. Could be very interesting this year.

Here's an article on the speculation of just how many people are coming to town next week. Even Lyndon Johnson had 1.2 million show up for his party.

From here.

It will be massive, unprecedented, and historic ... And there will be 5 million people there to watch it, said the Chicago Sun-Times.

In November, in the afterglow of a satisfying election victory, the Washington Post agreed that it would certainly be huge, but thought it might be more like, say 4 million ...

The Denver Post piped up and said that actually it could be a little more like 3 million. But that is still tons of people, right? Everybody still loves Obama even if 2 million fewer people show up for the party.

CNN, the august, Number 2 rated cable news channel weighed in and thought the other guys may be overstating things just a wee bit. But their estimate of 2.5 million spectators, even if it is half of the Sun-Times' estimate, is still pretty massive.

Even for a city used to big crowds, Obama's inauguration promises to shatter records for attendance. City officials predict up to 2.5 million people will converge on the capital January 20, and they are taking unprecedented steps to accommodate the masses.

See. It will shatter records.

By Christmas, the Post thought that maybe their November prediction of 4 million might have been a bit high and perhaps a bit school-girl crushish. So they cut it in half.

Turnout could easily reach 2 million, officials said, far outstripping the 400,000 who attended the 2005 inauguration of President Bush.

The Miami Herald says it might only be 1.5 million, but they say Bush got even fewer people than the 400k the Post gave him, so the percentage difference is still good for Obama.

As many as 1.5 million people may come for Obama inaugural festivities, according to officials at Destination DC, the District of Columbia's official convention and tourism corporation. By comparison, President Bush's inaugurations each drew about 300,000 people, according to Rebecca Pawlowski, a Destination DC spokeswoman.

The Seattle Times, Huffington Post, and Metro News think that only about 1 million may show ...

With the crowd estimates dropping like a stone, and the inauguration rental market going bust with no turnaround in sight, one starts to wonder if maybe, like Obama's candidacy itself, the inauguration crowd size fever is a left-wing media creation.

... After all, Lyndon B. Johnson had 1.2 million people show up for his inauguration in 1965, and that was 44 years ago. What if Barry can't even beat old LBJ's numbers? Even Eisenhower had 750,000 folks come to see him in 1953.

Well, we'll see. There is still a lot of energy in the city. Maybe it's time to watch Field of Dreams.


Grandpa Dino said...

I'll be at church, watching the proceedings on TV, then attending a prayer service for the new administration.

No matter what the weather, I will march with the Anglicans for Life group at the annual March for Life on Thursday, January 22.

Anam Cara said...

I read a report from a guy who has written a book about analyzing crowds in DC (I can't remember his name) that if you allow 5 sq feet per person (the size of an opened newspaper) you can fit 500,000 people between the capitol and the Washington Monument. 1 million people in that area is like putting 2,000 people on a basketball court.

I'm not only staying home that day, I'm not leaving my basement! (That's where our TV is>)

Anonymous said...

We're hoping to go out of town!


Anonymous said...

My brother and his wife are coming back after a two-week vacation. They are hoping to get through the mess to get home out of the way.

It was suggested to them by a friend to rent out their home - even a room could be rented for as much as $600 a night. Some obviously believe it will be huge.

The Lakeland Two