Saturday was to be a nationwide turnout for the Occupy Wall Street movement, with large protests across the land. From media coverage which portrays the movement as growing, one would have expected a large turnout, at least as large as the April 15, 2009 Tax Day Tea Parties.
In Ithaca, I noted that the crowd for the “mass peaceful demonstration” was about 12 people.
Apparently nationwide the protests did not fair much better, according to Nate Silver of The New York Times:
This exercise is meant, in part, to provide a comparison to the crowds that gathered for the first widespread Tea Party protests on April 15, 2009, for which I adopted a similar approach and came up with an estimate of at least 300,000 protesters across the country.
Saturday’s Occupy protests were probably smaller than that. Over all, I was able to find estimates of crowd sizes in about 150 American cities, ranging from the thousands of the protesters that turned out in New York to the roughly 10 who turned out in Juneau, Alaska — or the one protester who represented the movement in Myrtle Beach, S.C.
Nevertheless, based on the median estimates for the cities, I arrived at an overall total of about 70,000 protesters who were documented as having been active on Saturday throughout the United States.
This reminds me of the supposedly huge national protests in support of Wisconsin protestsers, which was a complete flop as documented in my post 50-State Union Protest Falls Far Short Of Predicted Turnout.
Yet the media coverage made the rallies seem much larger than they were. As Silver points out, only in Europe were the crowds truly large; which should make one wonder why Democrats want a European-style economy.
The Occupy Wall Street movement momentum is a media creation. As Walter Shapiro wrote a few days ago, the reality of relatively small crowds does not justify the “whole world is watching” coverage.
Yes even small crowds can generate the impression of momentum, particularly when the President of the United States finds it convenient to use them for his own political purposes.