Although he continues to lead in the polls, former President Donald Trump seems to be drawing smaller and smaller crowds. Last night, during his counterprogramming to the third Republican debate, the former president held a rally in Hialeah, Florida to appeal “to South Florida’s Cuban community during the rally aimed at upstaging his 2024 Republican presidential rivals while they engaged in their third debate without him a half-hour’s drive away,” noted The Associated Press.
“Trump’s Wednesday night event was part of a practice he has pursued through the GOP debates: He has cited his commanding lead in the polls in skipping the stage but has also drawn attention to himself with distinctive, simultaneous events.
At the rally, Trump referenced the debate happening across town, claiming no one was watching it. Later, he compared his rally to the debate: ‘I’m standing in front of tens of thousands of people right now and it’s on television. That’s a lot harder to do than a debate.’ The stadium where he was speaking has a capacity of roughly 5,200 people.”
Although the capacity of the stadium was over 5,000, multiple reports and videos showed that the event to be hardly full.
This photo is from minutes before Trump takes the stage for his rally. It's at a high school football field that's mostly empty.
Note to Team Trump: If you are going to have an event at a HS football field, try and get more attendees than show up to a JV field hockey game. pic.twitter.com/x99Sk2NVTE
— Sunshine Pundit (@SunshinePundit) November 9, 2023
A pro-DeSantis Twitter account also posted a video showing people leaving the rally during the president’s speech.
HAPPENING NOW: People are streaming out of Trump's BORING event while he is still speaking. pic.twitter.com/4ZIITMoLge
— Never Back Down (@NvrBackDown24) November 9, 2023
This isn’t the first time that Trump has seen crowds leaving early. During the 2020 election, the weaker-than-expected crowds at rallies signaled a bad omen for the president. In September of that year, Trump expressed shock at the small size of a rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, that had been promised to be a barnburner. The New York Times reported that “President Trump and several staff members stood backstage and gazed at the empty Bank of Oklahoma Center in horror.
Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence had canceled plans at the last minute to speak at an outdoor overflow rally that was almost entirely empty, despite claims of nearly one million people registering for tickets to attend the event in Tulsa, Okla., and the president’s false boast of never having an empty seat at one of his events.
The president, who had been warned aboard Air Force One that the crowds at the arena were smaller than expected, was stunned, and he yelled at aides backstage while looking at the endless rows of empty blue seats in the upper bowl of the stadium, according to four people familiar with what took place. Brad Parscale, the campaign manager who had put the event together, was not present.”
There have yet to be any reports about how the president feels about the dwindling attendance in Florida, which, in the end, may not matter at all.
Newsweek noted a disconnect between crowd sizes attending the Donald Trump Road Show and the polls, writing, “While debates have ensued about the size of his political rallies in recent months, polls suggest he remains popular with GOP voters. Trump is averaging support from 56.5 percent of Republicans, according to FiveThirtyEight’s aggregate of recent polls. DeSantis follows, with 13.9 percent. No other candidates are polling in the double digits.”