During the 1984 presidential campaign when I was an undergraduate at Williams, I used to get the better part of my news by arriving early in the library every morning and picking up the copies of the Boston Globe and New York Times the staff left on the information desk there.
Towards the end of the campaign, I read an article in the Globe about a Boston rally for Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale which was considerably largely than one for my man that year, the incumbent Republican Ronald Wilson Reagan. I feared my man would not win the Bay State.
Sure enough, when I checked the Globe’s archives (article available for a fee), I read that police estimated turnout at the Mondale rally at “80,000 to 90,000:”
By that estimate, the crowd was three times larger than the 25,000 to 30,000 that police said turned out for President Ronald Reagan’s Thursday noon appearance at City Hall Plaza.
While some observers said both days’ estimates were inflated, it was clear the Mondale crowd was one of the biggest at a Boston political rally in decades.
I thought about this article when watching a CNN (or MSNBC) report earlier today about the size of a rally for Mrs. Obama in North Carolina.
Just as Mondale enjoyed large and enthusiastic crowds in his 1984 bid for the White House, so do both Democratic candidates enjoy such gatherings their bids this year. I keep hearing Democratic campaign officials and Democrat-leaning pundits saying this bodes well for their party in the fall.
But, I wonder. Not only did Ronald Reagan win in 1984, but he also carried Massachusetts. Even though his opponent’s rally in the Bay State’s capital was one of the biggest is the city’s recent history, three times the size of the man who bested him in that bastion of liberalism.