Yesterday was tax day and as in previous years, Tea Party activists rallied across the country on the movement's most significant organizing day since it exploded on tax day 2009. But as observers wonder if the movement is waning in popularity, a ThinkProgress analysis found that in many cities, turnout was significantly lower at this year’s rallies than those on tax days in 2010 and 2009.
Moreover, there seemed to be fewer rallies this year than last. A listing of events on the umbrella group Trea Party Patriots' website for Monday and Friday showed a total of 145 events — the same listing shows 638 events on tax day 2010. Notably, there was also no tax day tea party rally in Washington, DC this year, unlike in years past.
And in dozens of state capitals and major cities across the country, turnout at rallies on Monday and Friday (the typical tax day of April 15) was down precipitously from last year, as a small sampling from ThinkProgress' analysis shows:
– Columbia, SC: From "more than 1,000" in 2010 to "a paltry 300" in 2011, even though this year's rally featured Tea Party favorite Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) while last year's featured disgraced former governor Mark Sanford.
– Tulsa, OK: From "several thousand" in 2010 to "less than 30" in 2011. "The turnout was a far cry from the 5,000 who showed up to a similar event on April 15 two years ago outside the Capitol," the Tulsa World notes.
ThinkProgress could also find no media reports of Tea Party rallies this year in several cities which hosted large rallies last year, such as Houston, TX and Atlanta, GA, which saw rallies of 6,000 and 3,000, respectively, in 2010.
ThinkProgress could find only a few places in which tea party rallies were larger this year than last, including one in Boca Raton, FL, which saw a large rally this year headlined by potential presidential contender Donald Trump, but witnessed no notable rally last year. But even in places with big headliners, like Madison, WI and Columbia, SC, which featured tea party favorites Sarah Palin and Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), respectively, turnout was lower than expected.
Meanwhile, in stark contrast to previous years' rallies, Tea Party activists were met in numerous cities by counter-protesters opposed to cutting government services and demanding corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.
– With research from ThinkProgress intern Kevin Donohoe.