Fulbright in Portugal

Steve Doig in Lisbon August-December 2010

Lisbon skyline

More head-counting!

FURTHER UPDATE: You can see some great aerial images of the rally on this Photosynth.com page. These are the aerial images produced by the AirPhotosLive.com crew that we used for estimating size of the rally crowd. And for those who want to compare rallies, here are images from the Glenn Beck “Restoring Honor” rally on the National Mall on August 28.

UPDATE: CBS News released our estimate of the crowd at the Stewart/Colbert rally: 215,000 people. See the CBS story and two aerial pictures. More aerial shots will be released soon.

Several readers have asked if I will be involved in estimating the crowd that turned out Saturday for the Jon Stewart/Steve Colbert “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” in Washington, DC. The answer is yes; once again, I’m working with the AirphotosLive.com crew, as I did with the Glenn Beck rally in August. See this post and this one for descriptions of my methodology for the Beck rally.

We’re getting the aerial images and doing the crowd estimates for CBS News so I can’t release my estimate yet. But I’ll discuss it in the next day or so when the images are released to the public. So watch this space!

7 Responses to “More head-counting!”

  1. November 1st, 2010 at 12:03 am

    Krista says:

    Crowd density was _intense_ at this event. I’ve attended several on the National Mall and none of them came close to this. It was like being on a metro train on the worst possible day, pressed shoulder to shoulder, back to chest… Movement was nearly impossible. Take that into account when making your count!

    Also, a LOT of people gave up when they waited for train after train that was too full to get on.

  2. November 1st, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Jon says:

    Dear Sir,

    I appreciate the educated analysis you apply to your work. I thought you would find this interesting —

    According to Metro, there were 825,437 on Stewart/Colbert day and 510,020 on Beck day. Average Saturday ridership is about 350,000 (both events were on Saturday).

    If you exclude the average daily riders, and assume two trips per person (one there, one back), that yields 80,010 for Beck and 237,718 for Stewart/Colbert.

    This method falls within the margin of error of APL’s analysis of 87,000 for Beck and 215,000 for Stewart/Colbert.

    Kind regards




  3. November 1st, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Lisa says:

    Thank you for providing a thorough analysis of how you got your numbers. You are the only one who has done that! Will you be discussing the differences between Beck’s and Stewart’s rally photos to explain how you got the different numbers? It would be a fascinating comparison.

  4. November 1st, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Steve Doig says:

    I’ve been too busy here in Portugal to go much beyond what I’ve posted. There are plenty of photos from both rallies out on the net, so anyone who cares to can do their own comparisons. As for method, it’s the same one each time — break the crowd into regions of different density (square feet per per person), measure the areas of each region, estimate the densities in those regions , and then do the math.

  5. November 2nd, 2010 at 5:04 am

    peg says:

    I tried to do a grid count and couldn’t, the density is seriously hindering it. Some of the Beck photos I could actually count bodies, but no way with this one, not with the software I have. Good luck!

  6. November 2nd, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    Metro Rider says:

    Just to make a comment on the metro ridership numbers; they are low for Stewart/Colbert. The crowds were so large that metro station managers opened the gates at some stations to ensure crowd movement. That is people rode the metro but were not charged for the ride. Also, 45 minutes after the rally ended there was a long line to get on the escalator to get into the Archives Station.

  7. November 3rd, 2010 at 4:50 am

    Patty Jones says:

    Hey Steve, I will be watching, very inerested in your estimate!

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