Protests in support of Wisconsin public sector unions were organized by MoveOn.org and labor unions today.

Promoters, such as David Dayen at Firedoglake, were predicting a million-person turnout nationwide.  But reports as of 7:00 E.S.T. today make clear that other than in Madison, Wisconsin, the crowds were sparse.

The turnout in Madison was sizable, with estimates ranging over from 50-70,000, which included protesters bused in from other states.  (Dayen is trying to pump the crowd estimate to over 100,000.) But elsewhere, the crowds numbered only in the hundreds or low thousands.

In Washington, D.C., only about 500 people showed up (go to link for good photos of crazy signs). (Note, WaPo says 1000.)

In Columbus, OH, where you would expect a big crowd given a similar controversy, only “several thousand” people protested

Other head counts, based on news reports, include: Boston (1000), Portsmouth, N.H. (few hundred), Augusta, ME (small crowd), New York City (“several thousand“), Chicago (1000), Miami (100), Austin (several hundred), Chicago (1000); Lansing, MI (2000), Nashville (hundreds), Los Angeles (2000), Richmond, VA (300), Denver (1000); Frankfurt, KY (several hundred), Jefferson City, MO (several hundred), Harrisburg, PA (several hundred). 

While I don’t have a complete count, based on these numbers from some major cities and labor states, total protesters nationwide (excluding Madison) likely totaled under 100,000 combined.

Outside of Madison, there were no reports of sizable crowds.  And if you read the news reports, almost all the protesters were other union members.  Despite the efforts, the organizers failed to motivate significant numbers of non-union members to come out for protests.

The 50-state protest was a failure, plain and simple, although the images from Madison may create the false impression of massive nationwide protests.

Update:  As predicted, the mainstream media is painting the nationwide protest as a success.  The headlines talk about protests around the country, but the stories talk almost entirely about Madison, giving the false impression that there was widespread support around the country:

  • The New York Times, In Wisconsin and Beyond, Rallying Behind Unions, only had one factual reference to a protest outside Madison, nothwithstanding the headline:  “In Miami, about 150 people took part in a rally at Bayfront Park in solidarity with public employees in Wisconsin and elsewhere.”
  • AP, Protesters across US decry Wis. anti-union efforts: “Large crowds of teachers, firefighters and public workers also gathered for rallies — holding American flags, wearing pro-union clothing and holding signs — in other capital cities including Topeka, Kan.; Harrisburg, Pa.; and Olympia, Wash.”

Since NYT and AP stories are run at thousands of local newspapers around the country who cannot create their own content, it is likely that most people in this country never will hear about the dismal turnout for these protests.  This is your biased MSM in action.

Update 2-27-2011: Wisconsin Police Union Members Threaten Insurrection.
Update 2-28-2011: MoveOn Confirms Paltry Protest Numbers.

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