Stats Check – Past Inauguration Attendance Records

Everyone is saying that today will set a record for inauguration attendance. The lower estimates have been around 2 million people. This would break the previous record set by LBJ of 1.2 million. I thought it would be interesting to see who after today would hold the record for percentage of population at an inauguration. I don’t want anyone to be able to take anything away from this day!

Lets start at the beginning with George Washington. Ol’ Georgie took the oath on April 30th 1789. America had about 3 million citizens at the time. Only a mere 32,000 attended the first inauguration of an American president. That’s less than 1% of the population 0.01% to be exact. We can cut Washington some slack. Travel was not easy during yet and many did not even agree on what the president should be doing yet.

Let’s jump all the way up to George W. Whether he has been one of the worst American presidents will be debated for years to come. Clearly he has been the most controversial in the past 20 years. At his first inauguration roughly 300,000 people showed up out of 299,398,484 citizens; 1% of all Americans. Of course there were a number of people protesting this swearing in and I haven’t read if they were tallied or not.

Reagan and Clinton, two popular Presidents drew 500,000 and 800,000 respectively for their first inaugurations. Reagan garnered 2.2% of America’s total population while Clinton received 3.2%.

750,000 folks liked Ike enough to travel to Washington for Eisenhower’s inauguration. With the 1950 census counted 150,520,798. That gives Ike an impressive 5% attendance.

The first two Presidents to have over 1 million citizens in attend their inauguration were JFK and LBJ. JFK hit 1 million and LBJ 1.2 or 5.6% and 6.6% of the population.

Obama is set to break those records by nearly all estimates. I’ve read from 2 million to an astonishing 5 million people could attend. There are about 281,421,906 people living in America according to the most recent census. That means Obama would have a 6.7% attendance at the lowest estimate. So percentage wise he would only have broken Lyndon Johnson’s record by 0.1%. That’s not much. We will see at the end of the day if it will only be that small of a record breaking or much larger.

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