A big part of the conspiratorial argument for a #Donald Trump upset victory in the presidential race, from Trump’s fans, is that their candidate tends to attract larger crowds at rallies than Hillary Clinton does. True, he does, but as any serious student of politics knows, elections aren’t determined by crowd sizes. But the crowd size argument would hold more water if his supporters didn’t feel the need to blatantly lie about the crowd size disparity -- such as the case of the #Tim Kaine Rally with 30 people in West Palm Beach.
Kaine, Party of 30
The meme began spreading on Twitter Monday night and Tuesday: that a daytime rally for vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine in West Palm Beach, Fla., had drawn just 30 people. The conservative blog Gateway Pundit reported this. The Drudge Report tweeted it. So did the candidate’s son, Eric Trump, his campaign manager Kellyanne Conway, and numerous other prominent conservatives.
But it’s not true
The origin of the “30 people at the Kaine rally” myth appears to be this video, from the “Trump Street Team FL.” In it, a Trump fan stands in front of the “rally,” then pointing his camera over towards the “30 people,” while pointing out how pathetic the showing is and that it means Clinton has no support in Florida. Most tweets about the rally have used a screen capture from this video:
Take a look at the “rally” in the video: There’s music playing. People are milling about. There’s no one on stage. It’s blatantly obvious that the video was filmed not during the rally but rather before it started, and certainly before Kaine arrived. If you've been to a political rally, you know that they tend to let people in hours before the actual rally starts.
The real crowd
A Palm Beach Post account of the speech put the crowd at 300 -- not a huge number but, well, more than 30, and still not bad for a veep candidate on a weekday afternoon. Once Kaine arrived, Clinton campaign staffer Karen Finney posted this picture:
Even if the crowd was only 300, that’s not the number that matters. The last ten polls of Florida, according to FiveThirtyEight, have Clinton in the lead in that state. And Palm Beach County, as anyone who remembers the 2000 Florida recount can tell you, leans Democratic in presidential elections. The implication that Kaine's rally crowd indicates a complete lack of support for the Democratic ticket in Florida is just laughable.
In the end, it’s not the number at rallies, or of lawn signs, that matters. It’s the number of votes.