I went to Beckistan today, and I'll write more tomorrow. I wanted to run a few numbers before I estimated the attendance, but it is pretty clear that Beck failed to draw 100,000 people. I estimated 120,000, but I did not know the actual length of the reflecting pool surrounded by a very loosely packed crowd sitting on chairs and blankets rather than shoulder to shoulder. One person per square yard would be a very generous estimate.
The reflecting pool is 676 yards long. Like the 9-12 rally last year, they pushed the stage way way way forward of where we are used to seeing it. Today, the stage was not "two steps down" from where King spoke, it was up to the Lincoln Memorial reflecting pool. And at the other end is WW2 Memorial. One each side of the pool is a walkway about 100 feet from the rim of the pool. Let's be really really generous and say the crowd went 50 yards on each side of the pool. That's 34,000 people per side - 670 yd x 50 yd x 1 wingnut/yd.
Beyond the WW2 memorial, we had maybe 3,000 people. South of the pool was an area 100x500 yds where one could walk quickly through maybe 8,000 people.
34 K + 34 K + 3 K + 8 K = 79.000
Also, the area behind the stage up to the Lincoln Memorial steps were cordoned off with heavy metal barriers. Where MLK had his front rows, beck had his VIP area.
I walked easily through the crowd, even almost down to the stage along the reflecting pool, mostly trying not to leave any muddy footprints on the many picnic blankets. Likewise, they were standing off their blankets, so those wear simply empty spaces. There were also numerous large swampy spots where nobody stood.
The wingnuts are trying to toss around numbers as high as 500,000, but for that to have happened, the Tea Partiers would have had to build a thousand human pyramids to fit into this space.
I will admit that when i got there I was a little freaked out, because I ran into a bottleneck of barricades, latecomers trying to reach the stage, and a lot of wheelchairs in the path (I gotta admire the commitment but if you really expect 500,000 people, would you haul grandma into that?). But then I got free of the crowd pretty easily, and I realized that the Republicans were all staying on the paths towing their toddlers and negotiating the wheelchairs. The paths (especially on the south side) were far more crowded than the lawns.