Sunday, October 3, 2004

Campaign notes

Crowd estimates an 'inexact science'

Let's accept, for the moment, the Bush campaign's claim that the crowd assembled for President Bush's speech in West Chester was the largest ever for a political rally in Ohio. If a candidate ever wanted to break that record, how many people would he have to draw?

Depending on which account you read Tuesday, that number is anywhere from 35,000 to 55,000.

The Los Angeles Times was the lowball at 35,000. The Washington Post and New York Times used a widely reported 41,000 figure, and attributed it to the U.S. Secret Service, though Jim Emery, the special agent in charge of the Cincinnati field office, said the Secret Service doesn't officially release crowd estimates.

The Enquirer, relying on West Chester Police Chief John Bruce's estimate, put it at 50,000. The Associated Press used the same number, attributing it to Rep. John Boehner, the local congressman.

The Dayton Daily News - and its sister papers in the Cox chain - played it safe, using a range: 40,000 to 55,000.

So who's right? Nobody will ever know.

"There's controversy all over the country in terms of estimating crowds," Emery said. "It's a very inexact science. I just have to rely on what's reported to me. There were an awful lot of people there."

Emery said he relies on local officials, because they usually have a better knowledge of the venue. The Secret Service is also able to generate estimates based on the "flow rate" through its metal detectors, but Emery declined to elaborate on those methods.

State Sen. Bob Hagan, D-Youngstown, is among those skeptical of the 50,000 number. He said even police tend to over-estimate. "They want to say, look at the size of the crowd we controlled," he said.

And campaign numbers certainly can't be trusted, Hagan said. "I've been overestimating the crowds that come to my events for 33 years," he said.

Gregory Korte

CROWDED STAGE: The Butler Tech dias will be crowded Oct. 20, if all seven candidates for Butler County commission attend the joint chambers of commerce meet-the-candidates forum.

In a rare occurrence, all three commission seats are open this fall, because Republican Greg Jolivette was appointed to Courtney Combs' unexpired term in a January job swap. All seven have been invited to participate.

Organizers say the discussion will be divided into three segments, one for each race. Republican Michael A. Fox is being challenged by Democrat Catherine Stoker and independent J. Michael Best. Republican Chuck Furman faces Democrat James Lubbers, and Jolivette faces Democrat Lawrence "Rusty" Thomas.

Reservations for the 7-9 p.m. forum at Butler Tech, on Ohio 4 in Fairfield Township, can be made by calling the Greater Hamilton Chamber of Commerce (513) 844-1500, or e-mailing

The event is sponsored by the Butler County Chamber Caucus, representing chambers in West Chester Township, Hamilton, Oxford, Middletown, Monroe and Trenton.

John Kiesewetter

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