The Misrepresentation of Dissent

Lowball Estimates of Crowd Size Diminish the Issues

Santa Barbara Women's March
James Bruce

With every political rally of any kind, one of the first things that anybody involved in it wants to do is claim a large and enthusiastic crowd. The counter-argument is often, “No, it wasn’t really that big.”

This diminishment of the numbers is a suppression of dissent. Whether deliberate or not, it serves to lessen the impact of the statements made by protesters. The result is a lost opportunity to build a constructive conversation about the issues.

One area of for Indivisible Santa Barbara focus is truth in journalism. Below are excerpts of local media reports that greatly contradict the participation at recent rallies we supported. Indivisible S.B. encourages everyone, regardless of political affiliation or policy stance, to be aware of local media misrepresentation or biased reporting.

Saturday, January 28: Representative Salud Carbajal Press Conference

“ … more than 50 supporters attended … ” — “Freshman Rep. Salud Carbajal Uses First Bill on Bid to Ban Future Offshore Oil Drilling” Noozhawk, 1/28/17, by Brooke Holland

“ … crowd of about 125 well-wishers … ” — “Carbajal to introduce no-drill oil bill” The Santa Barbara Independent, 1/29/17, by Nick Welsh

“ … surrounded by about 50 supporters.” — “Carbajal Bill Would Ban Oil Drilling off California Coast” Santa Barbara News-Press, 1/29/17, by Emily Leslie (Link available only via paid subscription or archive order.)

Indivisible Santa Barbara’s count confirms at least 120 participated. — Live video coverage by Indivisible Santa Barbara, 2/10/17

Saturday, January 21: Women’s March, Santa Barbara

“Thousands of South Coast residents…”, “…Sgt. Riley Harwood estimated there were “a few thousand.” — “Thousands Join Santa Barbara’s Women’s March in Protest of Trump Presidency” Noozhawk, 1/21/17, by Sam Goldman

“ … estimated 10,000 people attended the Santa Barbara march … ”— “San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara women’s marches attract thousands” KCBX-FM, 1/21/17, by Greta Mart

“ … More than 6,000 protestors … ” — “Santa Barbara’s Massive Women’s March” The Santa Barbara Independent, 1/21/17, by Nick Welsh

“ … well over 3,000 people took part … .” — “Thousands take part in local Women’s March” Santa Barbara News-Press, 1/22/17, by Mitchell White

In a head count via research of published photos and videos, Indivisible Santa Barbara members stopped counting at 6,800. 2/10/17, Indivisible Santa Barbara

About Indivisible Santa Barbara: The “Indivisible Team” refers to a group of former congressional staffers who wrote, “Indivisible Guide: The Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda”. Since the guide’s release, it has been downloaded more than a million times, and more than 4,500 local groups have started chapters in nearly every congressional district in the country. The Indivisible Team created the guide to demystify congressional advocacy and to support the community of local groups putting the Indivisible Guide into action. To learn about the Santa Barbara chapter go to


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