On Saturday, I went to the Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.
All it restored was disappointment.
In terms of execution, even the most liberal apologists acknowledge that the program was a bumpy ride, with a lot of waiting and very few laughs. For those who traveled hours (or more) to join the throng of people on the Capitol Mall, the rally was a stunning disappointment, as poor preparation (Comedy Central predicted only 60,000 would come) and inadequate audio/visual equipment left most with nothing to do but people watch.
See but the goal wasn't really to enterain the people who came -- it was to humiliate Glenn Beck.
The Stewart/Colbert rally had vastly more people than the Glenn Beck one in August. CBS News estimated 215,000 attended, compared to about 90,000 for Beck’s. The accuracy of head counts at events like this is greatly disputed, as supporters will tend to overestimate and detractors will underestimate. But regardless. I went to both -- this one had way more people.
But how useful is that of a gauge of relative national influence? Unlike, say, web traffic, book sales, or TV ratings, a rally represents the mood of a community far more than a country. And given that, liberal organizers have an obvious advantage over conservatives for an event like this: demographics.
The District of Columbia is probably the single most Democrat municipality in the country. Its population is primarily African-Americans, college students, and rich, white liberals – Obama’s base. He did get 92 percent of the vote here, and DC was the only place, beside Walter Mondale’s home state of Minnesota, that Ronald Reagan didn’t win in his 1984 sweep. Moreover, the rest of the northeast seaboard is also heavily Democrat and could attend something like this with no more effort than a short bus trip.
If Beck had wanted an overwhelming crowd at his event, he would have held it at some conservative stronghold – he probably could have gotten more people at a rally in Salt Lake City than in DC. But he wanted to show that he could still get a huge crowd without home court advantage.
Comparing the influence of the political ideologies behind the two rallies is certainly not to be gauged by the rallies themselves.
But by that measure, the advantage is clearly to the Republicans.