Estimating crowd sizes is tricky

The National Parks Service used to issue estimates of the sizes of crowds at various public events but stopped doing so after getting hammered on all sides, both by those who wanted larger figures and those who wanted smaller ones. So now there are no ‘official’ crowd sizes, enabling anyone to make any claim that suits their purposes. Take for example, the Million Maga March in support of Trump held in Washington DC last Sunday. White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany excitedly tweeted that a million people had actually turned up, while Trump initially claimed hundreds of thousands and later said tens of thousands.

There are certain photographic tricks that can be done to manipulate the impression of crowd size. Tight shots of people taken at ground level can make the numbers seem larger whereas aerial shots provide more accurate images and enable one to make some crude estimates.

So how many actually did turn up? If we assign each person one square yard of space, which is pretty tight packing of the kind one might find on a crowded dance floor, then a million square yards is about 130 city blocks for cities in the Eastern US. Even 10,000 people is 1.3 city blocks. Clearly that is not the case here, both in terms of the overall size and the fact that the distances between people suggests spacings of a lot more than one square yard. Click on the photo and then click on it again to enlarge it and you will see that the density is pretty low, suggesting something of the order of about a few thousand people.

That’s not a bad crowd size to come out in support of a futile cause. McEnany is not doing her credibility (assuming that she still has any) any favors by exaggerating the number out of all proportion. But we all know that is not the point. The point is to say things that she thinks will please Trump.

Jordan Klepper continued his intrepid quest into the heart of MAGAland to interview the inhabitants at the above march. You can see that the crowd is pretty spread out, suggesting that a total figure of a couple of thousand would not be far off.

I hope Klepper has people with him to protect him from Trump supporters who might be enraged enough by him repeatedly portraying them as utterly clueless to try and attack him.

(Non Sequitur)

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