How did the 9/12 protest crowd compare?

Conservative pundits have some fun with D.C. rally estimates. But how did the size compare with other like protests

Published September 14, 2009 11:15AM (EDT)

People gather on Capitol Hill in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009, during the taxpayer rally.
People gather on Capitol Hill in Washington, Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009, during the taxpayer rally.

Many right-wing pundits wildly overestimated the number of conservatives who marched on Washington, D.C. this past Saturday.  Saturday, right-wing commentator Michelle Malkin claimed that two million people had attended the rally -- a number she attributed to ABC News. ABC News made no such claim. As Media Matters  documented, Malkin seemed to have no source for that high estimate, but many in the right-wing blogosophere repeated the number as if it were fact.

In actuality, ABC News estimated that between 60,000 and 70,000 people were at the rally. Certainly, that's a significant amount of people, but two million it is not. Fox News put the number at "tens of thousands," a figure echoed by the Wall Street Journal and The Associated Press.

To put that estimate in perspective, here's a look at the number of people who flocked to the nation's capital for some other recent massive rallies.

  • January 27, 2007: Protest against the Iraq War -- The protest against President Bush's plan to increase the number of soldiers in Iraq had tens of thousands in attendance.
  • September 25, 2005: Protest against the Iraq War -- Official estimates run from 150,000 to 300,000.
  • April 25, 2004: March for Women's Lives -- This pro-choice rally drew between 500,000 and 800,000.
  • March 16, 2003: Protest against Iraq invasion -- 20,000 joined in a candlelight vigil in Washington.
  • January 18, 2003: Protest against the Iraq War -- Estimates range from "tens of thousands" to nearly 200,000.
  • October 16, 1995: Million Man March -- Estimates for this famed rally vary from 400,000 to 837,000.
  • October 11, 1987: Second National March on Washington for Gay and Lesbian Rights -- This rally pushing for increased funding for AIDS research drew at least 200,000 people.
  • October 15, 1969: Protest against the Vietnam war -- Rallies were planned all across the U.S. but the largest was in Washington D.C., which 250,000 people attended.

By Vincent Rossmeier

Vincent Rossmeier is an editorial assistant at Salon.

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