On Thursday night, Jeb Bush held a town hall in New Hampshire—a must win state for his struggling campaign. Looking at the pictures, it’s clear he packed the room. He proudly took to Twitter to report that the crowd was “400 strong.” Respectable turnout, no doubt about it.
Just a few hours away in Vermont however, Donald Trump was holding a much-publicized, much-covered rally. Despite the room having a capacity of 1400, his campaign distributed over 20,000 tickets. According to Trump’s Twitter account, they “could only get a fraction of this 25k crowd in.”
So on the same night, there were two events in two neighboring states. Both campaigns tweeted out recaps of their respective successes.
But here’s the thing: Jeb Bush could have said “we were standing room only in Peterborough last night.” He could have said “full house in NH.” He could have skipped describing the size of the of the crowd altogether—he had great photos to tell that story!—and spoken instead about how awesome his event was.
But he didn’t. Instead, he told the world that his event was “400 strong.”
Now 400 people is a lot of people. A LOT... for a local band. Or a high school soccer game. Or for a Rick Santorum rally*. But it’s really not all that impressive for a presidential candidate with a $100 million war chest and the resources that Bush has at his disposal.
And it REALLY doesn’t seem like that much when you see Trump bragging about his YUUUUGE numbers from right down the road.
What’s the point?
You can brag about turnout without mentioning numbers.
Had Jeb left it at “full house” or “standing room only”, we could have imagined the size of the event and been impressed that he filled the room. Instead, he gave us a number. Compared to Trump’s, it just seems paltry.
If your numbers are extraordinary, you might consider sharing them. Otherwise, just talk about the quality of your crowd and the substance of your event and don’t get caught up reporting on quantity. There’s little potential gain and a decent amount of potential risk.
*Feel free to substitute Santorum with the undercard candidate of your choice.
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