Oh, the lines! The lines were so huge! The streets around Houston, Texas are so filled with my supporters! Nobody has lines like me! Believe me, I can win Texas, just look at these lines of people waiting to see me! – Trump, probably.
The Trump Rally in The Woodlands, Texas, a suburb of Houston, made headlines with the sheer length of people waiting in line just to see their hero. Lines half a mile long, with people standing and waiting after the venue had filled. Tweets were coming in estimating 10, 15, 20, 25K people, all in the Houston area to come out and see Trump. What a phenomenon.
Texas went to Cruz in the primary, and gave Trump little support. 48 delegates out of 155, with a huge majority going to Cruz. Trump boasted that he could take Texas, and would take Texas, but Texas ended up embarrassing him with barely over 25% support in the Republican Primary. Hillary won the state’s Democratic Primary in a landslide, which was expected.
For the 2016 Presidential election, Texas has been forecasted as a weak Republican hold, with Trump holding a 2 point lead over Clinton. In the past few Presidential elections, more and more of the larger, urban cities have turned blue, and with the large hispanic population, Trump may be in trouble of losing that slight, 2 point lead. So, as he rallies through the state before the Convention, what can he do to win votes?
Simple – pretend his support is yuuuuuuuge in the state.
Trumps 2 rallies in Texas this past week were in Dallas and Houston, the 2 largest cities. Two cities that have voted Democrat in the past 2 Presidential elections. If he could show a stronghold of support, he could certainly boast and brag his way into more followers, even if he did not actually gain any ground in the state since the Primary. So, operation look at these lines was put into operation.
What does this mean? Book small venues for large cities, and let the media see the people line up to see Trump.
Three days prior, Trump held a Rally in bleeding red Greensboro, North Carolina, in a stadium that held over 20,000 people. Next stop was Atlanta, in a weaker/Democratic hold city, in a venue that held less than 5000 people. After that? Dallas and Houston, both with venues holding 4600 and 5000, respectively. High population areas with relatively tiny venues means a turnout that looks record-breaking – but it isn’t.
Let’s look at the population counts here. Greensboro, NC, has a population less than 300,000. Stadium: 20,000. Atlanta, GA has a population just under 450,000. Venue: 4600. Dallas, TX has a population of 1.26 MILLION. Venue: 4600. Houston, TX has a population of 2.2 MILLION. Venue: 5000. Also worth mentioning is that Houston is the 4th largest city in the country.
So, with the short notice that Trump rallies have, the argument could be made that larger venues could not be found. Perhaps this is the case, since there seems to be little more than a week notice for each event (at least as it appears on the Trump official schedule). This isn’t the case, though. Let’s take a look at the Houston area rally, and the 16,500 capacity Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion down the street from the Waterfront Marriott.
Hmm. No events scheduled for the entire weekend. That’s odd. The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, literally 1/4 a mile down the street from the Waterway Marriott, was empty. Of course, with Trump’s budget running thin, maybe a larger venue would have been too expensive to rent. Well, except for the fact that the CWM Pavilion is non-profit, and has held such events as area High School graduations.
What was the effect of booking such small venues in battleground states? The illusion of support. The big story of the night for the Houston area rally was the long lines that wrapped and whipped around the area streets. In fact, at its peak, the line was almost a mile long. This led to bragging rights of 10-25,000 people in attendance, from Trump supporters that are terrible at math (even 3 abreast, a less than mile line is around 6000).
News stations and reporters took it upon themselves to dedicate picture, video, and news reports over the sheer volume of people in line for this event, waiting in line for the Trump Rally. CNN’s Jeremy Diamond, on location to cover the event, even commented that the line to the rally was the longest he’d ever seen at a rally, at 1/2 mile. Big news for Trump in the battleground state that he barely holds by 2 points.
But really – this was the plan. In 97 degree weather, and a 120 degree heat index (the city was under a heat advisory), what Trump decided was to let people sit, and sit, and sit outside to prove to people that he had the support in the state. During the event, several people had to be treated with heat exhaustion, with one woman being carried on a stretcher.
To prove he had supporters, this is what Trump decided for his supporters in Houston. Hours outside in dangerous heat conditions, knowing many would be shut out of the small venue. Yeah, sounds like he really cares about his supporters – letting them stand outside for hours during a heat advisory cautioning people to stay indoors and limit outside exposure. Go Trump. Seriously, to hell.
So, what does all this hoopla really mean? Is it really that important? Of course it is. It keeps him in the media. In fact, all throughout this circus of a primary season, his major source of advertising came through the media. He has a limited budget, which is all but gone, and is struggling to get GOP donor support. His rallies have almost become cult, with media all over the world jumping at the opportunity to cover it.
And with national support falling, and battleground states at risk, Trump does what he does best – cons the world into thinking he’s great. Over the next 24 hours, we’ll all likely be treated with the news about how many people came out to his Houston area rally, and the great, long, lines of people that poured in. With an empty venue to hold them all just a quarter mile down the street.