Every single Congressman and Congresswoman who faced an opponent last year had at least a few thousand people vote against them, no matter how locally popular they were. Like Tea Party activists in 2009-2010, Democrats and progressives are making their voices heard at town halls. This got me wondering: if you were somehow able to organize all of those who voted against each Congressperson, how big of a venue could you fill?
Let’s start off small
New York Congressman Jose Serrano represents the 15th district, which covers nearly all of the Bronx. If you were to scoop up every voter that opposed him in 2016, you could fill Fordham University’s Rose Hill Gym almost three times over.
Optically, that would appear impressive for those in attendance. Pulling back though, that’s only 8,233 people. Rep. Serrano’s district is considered one of the safest in Congress.
Lets go for a bigger crowd
Georgia Congressman John Lewis has represented the state’s 5th District since 1987. How many people turned out in 2016 to vote for his Republican rival, Douglas Bell? Enough to fill the Atlanta Braves’ former home:
But even with 46,768 votes, Bell was never going to unseat the long term Congressman: Rep. Lewis won easily, capturing 253,781 votes in his Atlanta-based district.
Let’s try for an even bigger crowd
San Fransisco Congresswoman and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi represents California’s 13th Congressional District. Her opposition earned enough votes to fill nearby (alright, 40 miles southeast) Levi’s Stadium almost to capacity:
Her non-partisan opponent received 64,810 votes, so this would make for quite a sight.
But she won 274,035 votes in the same election, and was never in any danger of losing her seat.
Let’s fill up multiple stadiums
Utah Congressman Chris Stewart hasn’t faced a crowd like Jason Chaffetz yet, but the 2nd District member could still see an unpleasant town hall if the voters that picked his opponent, Charlene Albarran, showed up. Mrs Charlene received enough votes to fill Rice-Eccles Stadium at the University of Utah twice, with over a thousand more left trying to get in:
Mrs. Albarran earned over 93,000 votes last year. But incumbent Congressman Stewart, like all the others we’ve looked at so far, was in no danger of losing his seat: he won by almost 28%.
Bigger, you say?
Let’s go bigger.
Let’s go for the Congressman who enjoyed the closest win last year
Congressman Darell Issa represents southern Orange County and northern San Diego in California’s 49th Congressional District. His race wasn’t called until a considerable number of absentees rolled in, over a week after the election. His opponent, Doug Applegate, mounted a considerable challenge. Since there’s nothing approaching the capacity of his vote or even a fraction of it in-district, let’s look at both counties for some spots. Gathering all of his voters together, you could fill:
and all but the top row of seats at Angel Stadium in Anaheim.
All told, Mr. Applegate garnered an impressive 154,267 votes.
Congressman Issa added that top row and some tailgaters, earning 155,888 votes and re-election.
There are plenty of people available for the losing party to organize and confront the majority in every corner of the United States. This was the case in 2009, and in 2005, and 1993. No Congressman or Congresswoman is going to wander into a stadium filled with people who hate them, but they’ll attend town halls that can be easily flooded with disapproving constituents.