Thursday, April 16, 2009

THE WISDOM OF CROWDS (or lack thereof)

Nate Silver has reviewed crowd estimates for a number of the tea parties yesterday and found that they ranged between 5,000 and 20. His list is incomplete -- it doesn't include, say, the Atlanta tea party, which was turned into a Fox News prime-time special starring Sean Hannity (as well as country singer John Rich) and drew 15,000.

Impressive? Maybe not -- not when you consider that an NBA game last night between the 19-62 L.A. Clippers and the 22-59 Oklahoma City Thunder drew 19,060 people. That many people paid to see a game between two of the worst teams in basketball. The tea parties, by contrast were free.

(Admittedly, it was Fan Appreciation Night in L.A., which meant the Clippers were giving away free kettle corn and free car rags. That must have boosted the crowd a lot, right?)

The moral of this: if you use enough marketing muscle, you can get a crowd to come out for just about anything.

(Nate Silver link via TBogg.)


UPDATE: Nate now has an estimate for Atlanta, per The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, of "7,000 (per archived article; since changed to 'thousands')." A bit more than a third of the crowd for the Clippers and Oklahoma! At best! And Atlanta was free and had Hannity and John Rich! That's, um, pretty weak tea.

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