Sanity And The Silent Majority

Posted by | October 31, 2010 15:40 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

CBS estimated the attendance at yesterday’s Stewart/Colbert “Rally To Restore Sanity And/Or Fear” at 215,000, or three times the number at Glenn Beck’s rally last month.

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 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. (See some of the pictures used to create the estimate here.)

CBS News also commissioned 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.

Richard Nixon, arguably the most brilliant politician of the second half of the twentieth century, coined the term “silent majority” to describe the group of Americans not protesting the Vietnam War or civil rights.   This was in contrast to the vocal minority engaging in these protests.

The much larger number of people at the Stewart/Colbert rally than the Beck rally also reminds us that the Tea Party is loud but not anything close to a majority.  They are commanding a lot of attention and will have a large impact on the Tuesday elections, but all surveys have shown that they represent less than 25% of the electorate.  The silent majority does not support their radical positions, although they are very worried about the economy.  In states where Republicans have candidates like Rob Portman and John Hoeven, they will vote for the GOP.  The question is what will they do in states with candidates like Sharon Angle and Ken Buck?

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Copyright 2010 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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