One of the main controversies surrounding Donald Trump’s first weekend as president was over the crowd size at the inauguration. The media took great pleasure in pointing to Trump’s crowd size being smaller than Barack Obama’s inaugurations. Trump took umbrage at this and claimed that 1-1.5 million people attended. His press secretary Sean Spicer took it a step further and declared that it was “the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period.”
Here are the facts regarding Trump’s crowd sizes.
It is difficult to get an exact number on the crowd size. John Hinderaker at the Power Line blog notes that “an official estimate of crowd size for either the 2009 inauguration or last Friday’s” will never be completed.
“The National Park Service stopped doing such estimates in the 1990s,” writes Hinderaker. “Two, the issue normally would be analyzed by looking at satellite photos, but Friday was too cloudy for such pictures. Hence the uncertainty.”
That being said, there are still numbers that provide a general idea of Trump’s crowd size and how it compares to other inaugural crowd sizes.
Trump’s inauguration crowd size was smaller than Obama’s, but likely larger than other relatively recent inaugurations. PolitiFact pooled together enough data to determine that Trump’s crowd size was in a range of 250,000 to 600,000 people, which is a range that is wide but perhaps necessary given the lack of satellite photos. Obama’s inauguration crowd sizes were around 1.8 million and one million in 2009 and 2013, respectively.
However, Trump’s crowd sizes were likely bigger than the crowd sizes for President George W. Bush, who drew 300,000 to his inauguration and 400,000 at the second, as well President George H.W. Bush’s crowd size of 300,000 people. Trump’s crowd size would have also been bigger than Bill Clinton’s 1993 inauguration crowd size of 250,000 and Ronald Reagan’s inauguration crowd sizes of no “more than 400,000 attendees.”
In other words, the 250,000-600,000 crowd size range is nothing to sneeze at, but Trump simply couldn’t help but bend the truth in this regard.
The media used a deceptive photo in comparing crowd sizes. Here is the main photo used by the New York Times:
— NYT Politics (@nytpolitics) January 21, 2017
However, Fox News anchor Brit Hume noted that the photo used by the Times for Trump’s inauguration was misleading:
I was in the building at the bottom of picture on right yesterday. Shot was taken early, area was considerably fuller by time of speech. https://t.co/bzhWjm4alC
— Brit Hume (@brithume) January 22, 2017
In fact, the New York Times link that Hume quote-tweeted shows a side-by-side photo between Obama’s 2009 inauguration crowd size and Trump’s crowd size along the national mall to the Washington Monument, and they look fairly similar. This begs the question as to why the New York Times decided to use a photo showing a relatively barren crowd at the national mall for Trump’s inauguration as the featured photo. We all know the answer.
The Women’s March attracted three times as many as people as Trump’s inauguration. Per the New York Times:
Marcel Altenburg and Keith Still, crowd scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University in Britain, analyzed photographs and video taken of the National Mall and vicinity and estimated that there were about 160,000 people in those areas in the hour leading up to Mr. Trump’s speech Friday.
They estimated that at least 470,000 people were at the women’s march in Washington in the areas on and near the mall at about 2 p.m. Saturday.
In the end, there’s only one fact that matters.
Hillary’s Inauguration Crowd pic.twitter.com/H9zFBDj6ll
— Dog (@TheDogOG) January 21, 2017
People can squabble about crowd sizes and what they mean until the end of time, but it doesn’t change the fact that Trump is the president and will be judged based on his actions in the Oval Office, not by how his crowd size compares to others.
(h/t: Independent Journal Review)
This article has been modified to correct Obama’s inauguration crowd sizes.
Follow Aaron Bandler on Twitter @bandlersbanter.