POLITICS: President Donald Trump Inauguration, Compare 2017 With 2009

POLITICS: President Donald Trump Inauguration, Compare 2017 With 2009

The inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States marked the commencement of the four-year term of Donald Trump as President and Mike Pence as Vice President. A public ceremony was held on Friday, January 20, 2017, on the West Front of the United States Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

The inauguration theme is “Uniquely American”, a phrase that highlights the inaugural ceremony as “a uniquely American expression of our Constitutional system”. The theme also stresses the peaceful transition of power, and that the American people are “united behind an enduring republic”.  The inaugural ceremonies held in Washington, D.C., from January 17 to 21, 2017, included concerts, the swearing-in ceremony, luncheon and parade, inaugural balls, and the interfaith inaugural prayer service. The presidential oath was administered to Trump during his swearing-in ceremony on January 20, 2017, by Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts, and the vice presidential oath of office was administered to Pence by Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. Trump was sworn in on the Lincoln Bible, the same used at the inauguration of Barack Obama, and on Trump’s personal childhood Bible. (wikipedia)

Donald Trump swearing in ceremony.jpgPresident Donald Trump being sworn in on January 20, 2017 at the U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. (wikipedia)


View across the National Mall as Trump takes the oath of office

58th Presidential Inauguration – Soldiers and Airmen from the Florida National Guard look on as President Donald Trump takes the oath of office during the 2017 Presidential Inauguration. Florida sent approximately 340 Soldiers to provide support to the U.S. Park Police during the event. Photo by Ching Oettel (wikipedia)


Trump inauguration: Compare 2017 with 2009

It’s raining in Washington today — or, at least, it’s rainy. It’s not cold, really, at 45 degrees, but there are certainly reasons one might rather stay inside than, say, head to the Mall to watch an hour-long outdoor event.

Perhaps that’s one reason that the crowd in attendance at Donald Trump’s inauguration seems a bit more sparse than in years past. Or perhaps it actually is more sparse — particularly in comparison to the first inauguration of Barack Obama in 2009.

It can be tricky to evaluate attendance at events based solely on photos. Perspective matters, as does the time at which the photos were taken. Take the images below, from the inaugurations in 2009 and 2017. (washingtonpost.com)



Crowds gather on the Mall for the swearing-in ceremony of President-elect Barack Obama. (The Washington Post)



Crowd gather for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump. (Carlos Barria/Reuters) (The Washington Post)


That ABC News screen capture was from a bit before the event itself. Below is a still from CNN, taken only a few minutes before Trump took the oath of office. The crowd looks similarly sparse. (The Washington Post)


Side-by-side photos.

A view of the National Mall during Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009 and for Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017. Photos by Reuters and Pool Camera. Image has been updated to include time taken. (PBS NEWSHOUR))


One question ahead of today’s Inauguration Day ceremonies: How will the crowds at Trump’s swearing-in compare to crowds for other presidents?

Trump organizers said earlier this week they expected about 800,000 people to attend Friday’s festivities on the National Mall — “fewer than half the 1.8 million people who attended President Barack Obama’s first inauguration in 2009,” Politico says.

Another view: Here’s a side-by-side of crowds during President Barack Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and Donald Trump’s inauguration in 2017, taken at 11:49:43, minutes before Donald Trump took the oath of office.


Late update:PBS NewsHour  created a time lapse of 7 hours of footage on the mall, from the beginning of the morning through Donald Trump’s inauguration. Take a look:


Washington’s public transit system offered its own assessment of how the crowds compared.

So we can assume that Trump’s inauguration was not quite as popular as Obama’s.

How does it stack up to other presidents?

Again, comparisons can be tricky. Here are similar scenes from 2001, when George W. Bush was inaugurated, and 1993, Bill Clinton’s day.





(National Archives/Smithsonian)

To a large extent, such comparisons are simply a form of partisan competitiveness. It would, however, be very on-brand for Trump to assert that the crowd at his inauguration was one of the largest of all time. (He’s already claimed that the day would see “unbelievable, perhaps record-setting turnout.”) Or perhaps he will blame the weather for lower-than-expected turnout. Possible.

Though in 2009, the temperature was four degrees below freezing — one of the coldest inaugurations on record. Perhaps the larger crowds that year were simply an effort to utilize body heat.

In at least one sense, Trump seems to acknowledge the impressive size Obama enjoyed eight years ago. (The Wasington Post)



What are your thoughts?