Does Crowd Size Matter?
True to her campaign theme song,Elizabeth Warren has been working 9 to 5 -- and getting bigger and bigger turnout - and a rise in the polls.
For politicians -- does crowd size matter?
What I mean is - does the number of people you get to show up at your events- tell us anything more about support than other indicators, like the polling or fundraising numbers that the DNC used to winnow the field for the next debate?
The issue is again in the news after Elizabeth Warren's recent appearance in a Seattle park before a crowd her campaign estimated to be 15,000 - larger than all but a couple of audiences Hillary Clinton commanded even after winning the nomination.
Warren herself called attention to the significance of the turnout. The President - who has long shown a keen interest in the topic of crowd size - took exception to Warren's headcount in an interview with Fox News Radio.
We've been hearing a lot this election cycle about crowd size - starting with the launch announcements.
Kamala Harris had 20 thousand at her Oakland event. Bernie Sanders had 13,000 at his in Brooklyn. Amy Klobuchar got nine thousand to show up in a freezing Minnesota snowstorm. Beto O'Rourke got six thousand in El Paso. So did Pete Buttigieg - in the rain - in the much smaller South Bend.
Remarkably, 6,000 is also the number that frontrunner Joe Biden could barely muster in Philadelphia - on a *warm* day.
So what does this tell us about their candidacies- if anything? Let's look at the record. Remembering, of course, that this is an inexact science at best.
Back before they were nominees, Presidents Donald Trump and Barack Obama both were able to attract large, excited audiences.Obama drew 75,000 in Portland, Oregon in May 2008.Trump often had more than 20,000, like this event in Cleveland in March 2016
But don't forget -- so did Bernie Sanders - who still lost the nomination to Hillary Clinton -- despite the fact that she rarely drew crowds that size.And *she* didn't top 20,000 until enlisting President Obama, Jon Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen for a last-push event on Election eve. Sanders is not alone.
Many candidates have come up short despite drawing thousands to rallies- think Jessie Jackson in 1988, Howard Dean in 2004, or Ron Paul in 20-12.
And even after a candidate gets the nomination, historically, plenty of huge crowds have shown up for losing causes - all the way up till election day. In 1972, George McGovern drew enthusiastic crowds, including 25,000 people on election eve in Long Beach, California - and the next day he lost every state to Richard Nixon except Massachusetts and the District of Columbia, proving the silent Majority existed.
November first, 1984 Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro had 100 thousand people in New York's Garment district. Reagan-Bush beat them in the electoral college, 525 to 13.
Election week 1988, Michael Dukakis had 15,000 in Philadelphia 10,500 in Sioux Falls South Dakota.Poppy Bush beat him by 7 million votes and 315 electoral votes.
In October 2004, John Kerry was joined by Bill Clinton on stage in Philadelphia, before as many as 100 thousand people. But Bush-Cheney prevailed.
In 2008, after John McCain chose Sarah Palin, they drew arena-size audiences. But they couldn't match Obama's star power.
Two days before the 20-12 election. Mitt Romney whipped up a throng of 30,000 supporters in Bucks County, Pennsylvania -- but didn't even win the state.
So, crowd size alone is not sufficient to win the White House.