Donald Trump’s humiliation: A million expected for a 19,000-seat venue; less than 6,200 show up

See update for June 21, 2020, at end of post.


Referring to our delusional raging narcissist-in-chief and his ill-advised rally in Tulsa,[1] Stormy Daniels tweets,


Brad Parscale and Tim Murtaugh are mere sycophants and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez jumps to conclusions here:

Uh, yeah, about that:

Tim Murtaugh, the Trump campaign’s spokesman, said protesters stopped supporters from entering the rally, held at the BOK Center, which has a 19,000-seat capacity. Reporters present said there were few protests.[2]

Fewer than 6,200 showed up, which is to say the arena was filled to less than one third capacity,[3] and we see that protests weren’t really a factor in preventing people from entering the arena.[4] So moving right along, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez responded to Brad Parscale, tweeting,

Questions are arising about a narrative in which TikTok users and Korean Pop fans allegedly account for low attendance at the rally.[5] Sam Stein puts it succinctly:

Tim Fullerton, too:

(I responded really to Palli Davis Holubar’s retweet of Fullerton’s tweet before seeing Stein’s.)

What’s hard for Donald Trump and his supporters to escape here is that there is no satisfactory narrative that looks good for Trump. If folks are afraid of COVID-19, it means they don’t believe him when he says not to worry (he said “everybody is going to be safe”[6] but the waivers attendees were supposed to sign[7] probably didn’t help). If it’s fear of protesters, that considerably dims the aura of invincibility that Trump sought to project when he had a square cleared in front of a church so he could pose for a photograph with a bible.[8] And if it’s that he’s turned his supporters off, well that’s just it, then.

As this story was breaking, I posted,

And gun-toting authoritarian populists are all about showing how tough they are while many white supremacist paleoconservatives are itching for a fight. That should have countered any fear of protest. Finally, as I drive around Pittsburgh, I still see plenty of Trump yard signs and flags. This enthusiastic support for him remains, at best, only partly dimmed.

This turnout failure is really odd and I honestly wouldn’t much care about all this otherwise. What we can say is that it shows that Trump’s armor has some chinks in it. Time might tell the rest.


Update, June 21, 2020: Yashar Ali has what seems to me to be a very useful analysis, which I render here via the Thread Reader App:

1. Having run big rallies in my previous life in politics there were a few big issues here…a perfect storm

First, you never, ever brag about ticket reservations ahead of an event. Not just because you’ll be embarrassed if people don’t show up…it also discourages attendance.

2. Think about it. If you intend to go to a rally for a candidate of your choice but you keep hearing that 800,000 people have reserved tickets (forget that many were fake reservations – that news didn’t reach most people), would you still want to go? 800,000 for 19,000 capacity?

3. Unless you were a super, super diehard fan, the prospect of going to a rally where the candidate and his campaign manager keep touting that 800,000 people have reserved tickets sounds like a nightmare. The long lines, traffic, overcrowding…and all of that during a pandemic

4. You want people to feel like they have a chance to get a seat when you reserve a big venue. If you keep saying that you have 42-50 TIMES the number of available seats in reservations why would someone want to show up? Especially if they’re older or have kids?

5. Second, the campaign made a strategic mistake holding a rally in a venue this big in a state with a smaller population when you have to overcome attendance issues due to a pandemic. He should have held this rally in a state where he had a bigger pool of supporters to pull from

6. Again, it’s about overcoming attendance challenges due to corona. So if you want a rally with 19k, you shouldn’t hold it in a state with just over 1 million registered GOP. You should go for a state like FL w/ 4.8 million registered GOP or TX where you have over 6 million GOP

7. With respect to Covid-19, while POTUS and some of his supporters have been dismissive (particularly in the past month) of the threat the virus poses, it still made this event so challenging because many people are being responsible…regardless of their political affiliation

8. This is especially true of older potential attendees..you combine the threat of the virus with the prospect that they’d have to wait in line (due to repeated boasting by the campaign) and you can’t just do the normal stuff to draw a crowd.

9. Normally the campaign can send an email/text to supporters combined with social media support from the president & get who they need. Because they wrongly believed they had a surge in tickets, they likely didn’t do the stuff you need to do when you have attendance concerns

10. Did they distribute tickets to local GOP clubs? Did they aggressively engage with the state GOP to organize attendees? Did they do contests to encourage people to attend with a prize being to meet POTUS backstage in a clutch? (with testing of course)

Likely not.

11. I would say this rally, if they insisted on holding it indoors and in OK, should have been held in a venue of 7,000-7,500 max. I am confident they could have filled that venue size. The better option would have been to hold it outdoors. They would have had many more people

12. Bottom line:

– Bragging about numbers in advance scared people off

– Coronavirus impacted numbers

– Holding a rally during a pandemic in a state w/ a very small GOP pool compared to other states

– Not doing audience building stuff because they thought they didn’t need to

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Yashar Ali 🐘

@yashar Follow on Twitter

, 12 tweets, 3 min read[9]

Palli Davis Holubar catches an implication of points five and six:

She’s right and I can’t help but agree that there seems to be much more to the selection of Tulsa, initially on Juneteenth, than coincidence. Specifically:

[T]he rally comes amid nationwide protests — including in Tulsa — over systemic racism. The event was initially announced to take place on Juneteenth, a celebration of the end of slavery in the United States, before the campaign moved the date last week after mounting criticism. The rally took place about a mile from the site of the Tulsa Race Massacre – one of the worst racist attacks in American history in which white mobs burned the black community of Greenwood, known as “Black Wall Street” on June, 1, 1921.[10]

My original post, above, mostly complements rather than reflects this analysis. In my conclusion, I noted that “[w]hat we can say is that it shows that [Donald] Trump’s armor has some chinks in it.” One of those chinks might have been an ideological preference that outweighed point six and another chink might be Trump’s narcissistic need for aggrandizement that outweighed points one through four. The remainder of Ali’s analysis seems to me to reinforce a sense that the Trump campaign, like the Trump White House, is composed of sycophants, eager to inflate Trump’s ego in the short term, even at the expense of longer term goals. I’m pretty sure that if I figured out the right search terms, I could find folks who wrote at the beginning of Trump’s second year of office that this might be a problem.

  1. [1]Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248; Oliver Milman, “Trump campaign asks supporters to sign coronavirus waiver ahead of rally,” Guardian, June 12, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/12/trump-rally-supporters-sign-coronavirus-waiver
  2. [2]Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning, and Sheera Frenkel, “TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally,” New York Times, June 21, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/style/tiktok-trump-rally-tulsa.html
  3. [3]Andrew Solender, “Turnout At Trump’s Tulsa Rally Was Just Under 6,200–A Fraction Of The Venue’s 19,200 Capacity,” Forbes, June 21, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/06/21/turnout-at-trumps-tulsa-rally-was-just-under-6200a-fraction-of-the-venues-19200-capacity/
  4. [4]Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning, and Sheera Frenkel, “TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally,” New York Times, June 21, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/style/tiktok-trump-rally-tulsa.html
  5. [5]Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248; Taylor Lorenz, Kellen Browning, and Sheera Frenkel, “TikTok Teens and K-Pop Stans Say They Sank Trump Rally,” New York Times, June 21, 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/21/style/tiktok-trump-rally-tulsa.html; Donie O’Sullivan, “TikTok users are trying to troll Trump’s campaign by reserving tickets for Tulsa rally they’ll never use,” CNN, June 20, 2020, https://www.cnn.com/2020/06/16/politics/tiktok-trump-tulsa-rally-trnd/index.html; Andrew Solender, “Turnout At Trump’s Tulsa Rally Was Just Under 6,200–A Fraction Of The Venue’s 19,200 Capacity,” Forbes, June 21, 2020, https://www.forbes.com/sites/andrewsolender/2020/06/21/turnout-at-trumps-tulsa-rally-was-just-under-6200a-fraction-of-the-venues-19200-capacity/
  6. [6]Donald Trump, quoted in Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248
  7. [7]Oliver Milman, “Trump campaign asks supporters to sign coronavirus waiver ahead of rally,” Guardian, June 12, 2020, https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/12/trump-rally-supporters-sign-coronavirus-waiver
  8. [8]Michelle Boorstein and Sarah Pulliam Bailey, “Episcopal bishop on President Trump: ‘Everything he has said and done is to inflame violence,’” Washington Post, June 1, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/religion/bishop-budde-trump-church/2020/06/01/20ca70f8-a466-11ea-b619-3f9133bbb482_story.html; Egan Millard, “Outraged Episcopal leaders condemn tear-gassing clergy, protesters for Trump photo op at Washington church,” Episcopal News Service, June 2, 2020, https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2020/06/02/episcopal-leaders-express-outrage-condemn-tear-gassing-protesters-for-trump-photo-op-at-washington-church/; Toluse Olorunnipa, “As nation convulses with fiery protests, leaders struggle to address deep racial despair,” Washington Post, June 2, 2020, https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/as-nation-convulses-with-fiery-protests-leaders-struggle-to-address-deep-racial-despair/2020/06/02/92ecd452-a428-11ea-b473-04905b1af82b_story.html; Evan Osnos, “‘An Abuse of Sacred Symbols’: Trump, a Bible, and a Sanctuary,” New Yorker, June 2, 2020, https://www.newyorker.com/news/daily-comment/an-abuse-of-sacred-symbols-trump-a-bible-and-a-sanctuary
  9. [9]Yashar Ali, [Twitter thread], Twitter Thread App, June 21, 2020, https://threadreaderapp.com/embed/1274547228619636738.html
  10. [10]Eugene Daniels, “Trump campaign blames protesters for disappointing turnout at Tulsa rally,” Politico, June 20, 2020, https://www.politico.com/news/2020/06/20/trump-rally-tulsa-coronavirus-reset-2020-campaign-330248

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