Attendance likely to drop by a million for second Obama inauguration

District of Columbia officials estimate that between 600,000 and 800,000 people will attend Obama's second swearing-in Monday.
Jan 15, 2013


Marvin Lyman figured it would be a breeze to fill two charter buses to go from Missouri to Washington for President Barack Obama's inauguration, just as it was four years ago when Lyman's phone rang off the hook with people eager to make the trip.

But as December turned to January, the Kansas City restaurateur weighed canceling the trip as he struggled to find enough passengers to fill one 45-seat bus.

"Right now it looks like a group right at 18, so we're coming," said Lyman, co-owner of Papa Lew's soul food restaurant. "In 2009, we had 106 people, we had two 55-passenger buses. It's definitely not like the first time."

When Obama takes the oath of office outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 21 and looks onto the National Mall, he will see a different landscape than he did in 2009.

Then, an estimated 1.8 million people poured onto the Mall to witness the first African-American president sworn into office. Now, District of Columbia officials estimate that between 600,000 and 800,000 people will attend Obama's second swearing-in, a steep decline from 2009 but an above-average audience for a second-term inauguration. George W. Bush's second inauguration attracted between 300,000 and 400,000 people. Bill Clinton's likely drew around 450,000.

The expected drop in attendance isn't a sign for a lack of enthusiasm for Obama's re-election, according to Lyman and others. With the historic novelty of the first inaugural gone, coupled with today's challenging economy, polarized political climate, minimum stay requirements imposed by some Washington-area hotels, and images of people shivering in the bone-chilling cold during the 2009 swearing-in still fresh in the minds of many, more people are choosing to stay home and watch the event on television, they say.

"People are very excited about Obama being re-elected, but not excited about going to D.C. and enduring the cold like the last time," Lyman said. "Some of it could be financial. Some people overspent over the holidays and I know some people's job status changed in the last four years."

David Goldfield, a history professor at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, said this year's inaugural seems to lack the buzz and sense of anticipation that Obama's first one had.

"It's subdued in the sense that January 2009 was a very historical occasion," Goldfield said. "Obama's campaign generated a considerable amount of hope and prospect. ... But a lot of programs Obama touted in 2008 didn't receive a lot of discussion in Congress -- immigration reform, the environment. Also, there is this dreadful deadlock in Congress that has turned some people off."

Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, said he's noticed a lower wattage toward the inauguration from his constituents and his colleagues on Capitol Hill.

In the weeks leading to the 2009 inaugural, Cleaver's office was flooded with more than 5,000 requests for tickets. This year he said he's only received 1,700 inquiries.

The lower demand is just the nature of second-term inaugurals, according to Cleaver.

"Having been the first African-American mayor of Kansas City, I can tell you the second time around isn't as exciting as the first. People have already been a part of history," he said. "My first inauguration was one of the biggest in Kansas City. The second time, you could have had it in my garage."

Delores Reid-Smith, a member of the Charlotte chapter of the Martin Luther King Jr. Planning Committee who is organizing a bus trip from North Carolina to Washington, summed up the projected attendance drop more succinctly: Obama "isn't a newbie anymore."

Even the president acknowledged that the thrill might be gone for some of his supporters. After national voter turnout surged to 62.3 percent in 2008, it fell to 57.5 percent in November, the lowest figure since 2000, when 54.2 percent of eligible voters cast ballots.

"So, I'm a little grayer now. It's not as trendy to be involved in the Obama campaign as it was back then," Obama said at a Chicago fundraiser last March. "Some of you have rolled up those 'Hope' posters and they're in the closet somewhere."

Andrea Young, a school speech pathologist from Norcross, Ga., said nothing could have stopped her from attending Obama's 2009 inaugural. She made the journey on a bus initially chartered by South Carolina Republicans.

This year, she tried to organize a bus trip to Washington through her Spartanburg, S.C., church, but that fell through. Now she's considering driving with friends or traveling by bus with another church group.

"I'm excited, but I have obstacles in front of me," Young said. "I thought it would be a slam-dunk organizing a bus trip, but people are lacking finances."

Neither finances nor the Atlantic Ocean is stopping Verna Brandford from attending Obama's second swearing-in. The London resident was there in 2009 and booked her flight to attend this year's ceremony moments after the American television networks called Ohio for Obama on election night.

"To have witnessed such a historical moment clearly cannot be repeated," Brandford said in an email interview. "However, this time is an even more momentous occasion for me as your president as a man of color did not only attain the unattainable once in 2008 but did it a second time in 2012. What are the chances of that happening in one's lifetime?"


By William Douglas - McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

(c)2013 McClatchy Washington Bureau

Visit the McClatchy Washington Bureau at

Distributed by MCT Information Services



What else does one expect. This economy and its future rides on the back of a president that hates Capitalism. People better wake up, but unfortunately, I think its to late. 20+ Trillion here we come.


Hey arnmcrmn
How about blaming the real culprit, Mr. Bush.HUH?

believe it

Explain this one to me please


George Bush has secretly been holding the countries checkbook for the last four years apparently. ;-)


@ thinkloud....Oh I forgot to mention. Bush hasn't been in office for 5 years now, but is still to blame for everything. Can't blame Obie one bit. Typical liberal poster. Gets old.


@thinkoutloud: Bush left with somewhere around 6 to 8 trillion, O'moron has us at 16 trillion and climbing. Get over the Bush rhetoric already.


Who can afford to travel to DC and stay in a $XXXX a night hotel room? Most people need to WORK. And yes thinkinoutloud....can you tell me why it is Mr. Bush's fault? Are you still using that as an EXCUSE as to why the President is still running us in the ground? Think you need someone NEW to blame.

Swamp Fox

Who would rebook on the Titanic?


I guess you "folks" forget who dug the hole that we all fell into. Now you want to blame the guy that inherited the mess. I don't need to find someone NEW to blame, cause you have already found him. SO SAD for you.


Pres. Bush "inherited" the Tech Wreck of 2000.

If it weren't for the Fed. Reserve buying almost $1 trillion annually in U.S. govt. debt and giving the Tres'y almost $90 billion in interest payments, this economy would be comatose.

We're currently borrowing almost 50 cents of every dollar spent. Why not raise the debt ceiling to $50 trillion? It doesn't matter. We're headed for the fiscal canyon.

I wouldn't walk across the street to see this coronation.

Estrella Damm

Socialist congress would be the correct answer.


@So let me get this straight. I inherit a bad business as a president and in doing so I am expected to right the ship and get things back on track. The first year is rough, but people forgive me because well its the first year, and things do not change overnight. So year, 2, 3, 4 and into year 5 the business much worse off, promises broken and I've been a complete failure......and I expect people to still buy its the "guy behind me's" fault. Thats basically what you are saying. Poor poster and yet another failure to make a real rational statement. But thats what liberal posters do. They cannot man up and say that this guys a failure, we were duped and wrong. They will still be blaming Bush 4 years from now and believe they are right.

Swamp Fox

For the blame Bush crowd, maybe if Billy Clinton wouldn't have been so busy in the Oral Office Bush wouldn't have to have combated terrorism his entire presidency. Obama loves to blame others yet he was the one who increased the federal debt of a third the largest amount in history and taken over 1/6 of the American economy with his Santa Claus method of governing, largest increase in gas prices over an extended period all with no decrease in unemployment....


calling out you prezo supporters that said jeep wasn't planning to make vehicles in china!!

Published: 1/15/2013

Fiat, Chrysler announce deal for China production.

"Mike Manley, Jeep brand CEO and Chrysler's chief operating officer for Asia Pacific, was on stage with Guangzhou officials, but did not make any comments or address the media following the conclusion of the press conference.

After the press conference, Zeng Qinghong, CEO of Guangzhou, said his company would begin building Jeeps in China next year"

keep drinking the kool-aid obozo followers!!!!!


@ mikel:

Did you also see that the UAW retiree VEBA that owns part of Chrysler wants to file an IPO?

I think that the trust is in financial trouble and needs $$$.

Marchionne has said that Fiat needs a third partner. Maybe he's looking toward China???

Have you seen those POS Fiats? Fiat tried twice to break into the U.S. mkt. and ran with their tail between their legs both times.

Fiat's in financial trouble in Italy.

Chrysler only bought AMC for Jeep. Maybe Jeep's all that Fiat bought Chrysler for after American taxpayers helped to sweeten the pot.


Waaaa!!! The people voted. Waa!! No electorial colledge needed. Waa!!!


I'm with you kURTje. Not racist...RIGHT! They are sore losers, and cry babies. I for one respect my President!I wish they would quit Whining and realize their GUY lost.


not a sore loser. just saying that obozo told a big fat LIE in your face and you refused to see through it even though the opposing campaign tried to tell the truth. all obozo supporters are villified liars and poison kool-aid drinkers.


The working crowd can all thank the TAKER crowd for this election win. Give give give give give..........

swiss cheese kat's picture
swiss cheese kat

Obama signed legislation that gives him lifetime Secret Service Protection.
Obama grants pay raise to Biden.
Obama grants Nigerian student permanent residency in U.S.
Obama signed legislation expanding the State Department's Rewards for Justice program aimed at capturing the world's most serious human rights abusers. The law will offer reward money for information leading to the arrest or conviction of certain commanders of the Democratic party for the Liberation of Rwanda.
Obama on Monday night signed into law the Drywall Safety Act of 2012 and North Korean Child Welfare Act of 2012.
Obama Signs Pennsylvania Disaster Declaration.
Obama signs bill to let Facebook users share Netflix videos.
Obama Signs Bill Creating Pinnacles National Park.

Which one of these is helping the economy? None. Bozos.

Swamp Fox

Wonder how many will miss work, my guess not many, most of his supporters are the Santa Claus mentality, and no this is not racist, lazy has
devoted members in all races......

Cliff Cannon

@ Swamp Fox : " Wonder how many will miss work, my guess not many " Hilarious,yet sad.

More importantly,to me,since I intensely dislike " lazy" you were spot on with: " and no this is not racist, lazy has devoted members in all races...... " Thanks for the stimulating comments.


@ CC:

Mr. Obama got his 99 wk. unemployment extension in the fiscal cliff legislation.

Some I've known, treat unemployment like a vacation and only get serious when it's about ready to run out.

Mr. Obama changed the rules for "job hunting" under unemployment comp. to merely "thinking" about gettin' a job. :)

He's the best King we've ever had.

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango: You want me to admit publically,that I am a hypocrite ? O.K. I am a hypocrite. You see when 'furniture' went down in '08 because the federal law known as " Cafta" ( free trade with China ) had devasted our industry. All of us impacted by it were allowed these extensions you write of.

Personally,I didn't stay on unemployment to the end of it. However, I did go to trade school in an attempt to learn more about fixing everything home related.Which obviously,extended my stay on unemployment.

Point being, the 99 week extensions were already in place in '08 with Mr. Bush in the White House. As well as noting the same federal gov't that passed laws ( under Mr. Clinton) to destroy American manufacturing, gave money to keep those impacted by it, to stay on unemployment. ( Can you say 'cat biting it's own tail ' ? )

However,I do agree with economist's everywhere who say " if you want the unemployment rate to go to zero. Do away with unemployment checks " Though,if we we're to do that instantly only one word would describe it's eFFect : chaos

P.S. I am not a fan of Mr.Obama. Neither is he in my opinion the only problem in Washington. ( See Charlie Reese's essay '545 people' )


@ CC:

"Kindly" note: I don't take responsibility for other people's feelings when making general comments. Remember that whole "co-dependency" thing?

BTW: As a libertarian I support free trade and open markets.

FYI: "China is Ohio's third biggest export market after Canada and Mexico."

Closed societies stagnate both socially and economically. Soviet Europe? After reunification, the contrasts between East and West Germany could not be more glaring.

Also, nowhere else on Earth does a "third world" country (Mexico) share such a long contiguous border with a "first world" country (U.S.).

The Mexican economy is prospering. They are developing a middle class. IMO, it's better having them working there, than coming here to find work.

Sadly, we are at record levels of long-term unemployment:

This Admin. is grossly incompetent.

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango : No harm,no foul here. I just wanted to make sure to 'play fair' in a debate. Since,I used Mr. Bush's extension to get an education in a very helpful to me field. I felt encumbered to say so.

" sadly we are at record levels of long-term unemployment " Agreed.

" This admin. is grossly incompetent " Amen.

" I support free trade and open markets " Great theory. Wish all country's did. However,since they don't. I see no reason,what so ever for our own federal gov't to legislate away American manufacturing and both party's did it


@ CC:

I fully understand and support the "hand up" concept.

I typically only toss guilt toward liberals. They seem to enjoy wallowing in it.

Extraordinary times sometimes call for extraordinary actions. But making those programs permanent can often lead to calcification and institutionalization of the socio-economic defect.

I applied for unemployment once, but found a job before it kicked in.

Better check the stats on mfging. As a percentage of GDP, it ain't changed that much over the decades.

Also, as a country, the U.S. is the third largest exporter in the world. (CIA Factbook)

Cliff Cannon

@ Contango : First,I must say I felt no guilt, what so ever in our comments or for going to trade school.

My purpose for writing what I did.( the way I did,was to simply give 'ammo',so others might join the debate)Was to say Mr. Obama is only doing something Mr. Bush did ( on the 99 weeks of unemployment) as well as-- point out the stupidty of federal laws--- at times.Since the feds wanted 99 weeks for those people who lost their jobs to China.

Personally, I know how hard I tried to get back into union trucking, as I like so many other 'furniture' drivers came up just short ( my case 15 month's )of getting enough time in to double, our would be pensions.( only,a fool would not pursue that.)

Failing to do that. (and in'08 it was very easy to fail at job searchs) A very kind lady went to bat for me at the unemployment oFFice and despite her collegues wanting to keep me out of school.She got me in.And I must say here, I remain enternally grateful to her for that.

However,with out doubt, I believe you got this thought totally correct: "Extraordinary times sometimes call for extraordinary actions. But making those programs permanent can often lead to calcification and institutionalization of the socio-economic defect "

As to the stats on mfging. I'll fall back on this old cliche; " figures don't lie,but liars can figure" and point to the empty factory's here in Norwalk as one example of profit making company's dumping there plant's for bigger profits in foreign lands. Simply because federal laws encourage it.

U.S.A. " third largest exporter in the world " If a tie is like 'kissing your sister'. Then the greatest country on the planet being a mere third in export's, is worse than kissing your brother

jack langhals

There you go,The King & His Subject's !


As is said:

When the govt. robs Peter to pay Paul, the govt. can always count on the support of Paul.

For one, about 80% of the Farm Bill goes to fund food stamps.