WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/CBS News/AP) — Crowds on the National Mall were thin for President Donald Trump’s inauguration on Friday compared with those for President Barack Obama eight years ago, CBS News’ Scott Pelley noted.
A few weeks ago, President Donald Trump told The New York Times his inauguration would have “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout.” Despite suggestions that might not be the case, the then president-elect tweeted on January 14: “Inauguration Day is turning out to be even bigger than expected. January 20th, Washington D.C. Have fun!”
To top the record-setting turnout at Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009, the crowd on the day of would have had to surpass an estimated 1.8 million people. But aerial shots taken during both inaugural events show a much smaller audience for President Trump.
Pelley described the crowd on Friday as “considerably thinner” than the one in 2009.
Officials were expecting about 800,000 to 900,000 people to come to D.C. for Trump’s inauguration and parade, which is in the same ball park as the estimated one million that attended Obama’s second inauguration.
While most reaction online pointed at the comparison between Obama and Trump’s inaugurations, anything close to the anticipated numbers would put Trump’s inauguration above the official estimates given for both President Bushes and President Ronald Reagan, none of whom attracted more than 400,000 attendees.
Neither is comparing 2009 and 2017 exactly like with like, CBS News noted. As America’s first black president, Obama’s inauguration held a particularly potent historical quality, which made it more compelling than other inaugurations. A forecast of rain may also have played a part in the smaller turn-out for President Trump, as would the fact that D.C. itself leans deeply Democrat.
Meanwhile, CBS News’ Pelley noted: “Donald Trump, at least in modern times, has the lowest approval rating of any incoming president. Most of the major polls, including the CBS News poll, has him around 35 percent.”
There will be an official tally at Friday’s inaugural festivities, nor for the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday.
For decades, the National Park Service provided official crowd estimates for gatherings on the National Mall.
But the agency stopped providing counts after organizers at 1995’s Million Man March threatened a lawsuit. They complained that the National Park Service undercounted attendance at the march.
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