It’s a topic that has been debated to death over the past 48 hours: Whose Inauguration drew the biggest crowd?
The drama began on Friday soon after the Inauguration ceremony had concluded when The Department of Interior briefly ceased all social media use after the National Parks Service account was used to retweet a picture showing a drastic different in crowd sizes on the Mall. On Saturday morning, President Trump appeared at the Central Intelligence Agency Headquarters in Langley, Virginia and stoked the controversy by saying:
“It looked, honestly, like 1.5 million people. Whatever it was, it was, but it went all the way back to the Washington Monument.”
The saga culminated on Saturday night when White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer called in the White House Press Corps to give a terse statement on the issue and what he saw as unfair coverage of the crowds. Spicer shouted down critics of the inauguration and said:
“This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration. Period.”
So did Trump really have the largest audience for an inauguration? The National Park Service no longer issues crowd estimates due to a controversy that stemmed from their estimates of crowds at the Million Man March in 1995, so there won’t be a definitive estimate. The best way to get an idea of the crowd is to look at the pictures, but the same, misleading pictures keep circulating as definitive proof that people weren’t too excited for Trump’s inauguration, so let’s take a look at some other pictures:
Here’s the view from the West Front of the Capitol, looking out towards the Washington Monument for Obama’s Inaugural in 2009:
Here’s a similar view for Trump’s on Friday:
A wider angle photo shows the true size of the massive crowd that came out for Obama in 2009:
But that very same angle seems to show a pretty similar crowd for Trump:
Obama’s supporters lined Pennsylvania Avenue to greet the new President:
Surely they didn’t do the same for Trump? Well, they did:
In 2009, the crowds gathered to try to catch a glimpse of President Obama when he exited his limo on the way to the White House:
And when Trump exited his limo? It was a pretty similar scene:
Finally, here’s the tweet that started all of the controversy:
— Binyamin Appelbaum (@BCAppelbaum) January 20, 2017
From that angle, it’s clear that last Friday’s inauguration may not have been the most attended of all time, but other pictures from the day also show that there was still a good amount of people who got up early on a wet and windy day to greet their new president.
So Trump may not have had quite the crowd that Obama had in 2009, but did anyone expect him to? Trump only received 4% of the vote in DC, 33.9% of the vote in Maryland, and 44.43% of the vote in Virginia. Without much local support, it’s easy to explain the disparity in attendance.