CBS Estimate: Sanity Rally Attracts 215,000


Earlier today CBS teased a “sure-to-be-controversial” crowd estimate for the Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear. Twenty minutes ago they posted it:

An estimated 215,000 people attended a rally organized by Comedy Central talk show hosts Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert Saturday in Washington, according to a crowd estimate commissioned by CBS News.

The company AirPhotosLive.com based the attendance at the “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on aerial pictures it took over the rally, which took place on the Mall in Washington. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 10 percent.

CBS News also commissioned AirPhotosLive.com to do a crowd estimate of Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Honor” rally in August. That rally was estimated to have attracted 87,000 people. Amid criticism from conservatives that the estimate was low, CBS News detailed the methodology behind it here.

The Park Service permit was for 60,000 people; the crowd was large enough that they opened an extra section of the Mall. The number is apparently higher even than the Viacom folks expected. They ordered port-a-potties for 150,000.

Stephen Doig, who helped calculate the Beck rally numbers, describes how he did it in this On The Media interview and on his blog. Our Kathy Gill quoted him then:

I am amused to see that those who embraced my Obama inauguration estimate as soberly realistic are now attacking the Beck rally estimate, produced using exactly the same methods, as deliberately biased.

Will these numbers be similarly controversial? They surprised me.

LATER: From Axel Edgren in District TMV, “The Stewart rally was obviously smaller than the Beck rally. Measured in pounds, of course.”

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