Donald Trump took his front-running campaign for the Republican presidential nomination to Pensacola, Fla., on Wednesday night. And, holy cow, did people come out in droves to see him.
Thousands packed into the Pensacola Bay Center to see Donald Trump tonight... pic.twitter.com/QOpPJIkp7N
— Jenna Johnson (@wpjenna) January 14, 2016
Trump's campaign claimed it gave out 20,000 tickets; the arena holds 11,500 people. According to Jenna's reporting, there were "at least 11,000" in attendance and "several thousand more were turned away." Here's a look at the line waiting to get in via NBC embed Ali Vitali:
— Ali Vitali (@alivitali) January 13, 2016
Large crowds are the rule, not the exception, at this point for Trump. He had 8,000 people in Lowell, Mass., earlier this month; more than 2,000 showed up in Burlington, Vt., -- not exactly a conservative enclave -- to hear Trump speak last week.
I've written a lot about crowd sizes this election and how they remain an uncertain indicator of actual support. But, Trump's ability to draw thousands and thousands of people to hear him speak this close to actual voting -- we are 19 days from the Iowa caucuses -- suggests to me that the enthusiasm and passion he has sparked among a certain segment of the GOP base isn't going anywhere any time soon.
And, judging from the packed house in Pensacola, Trump might be getting stronger, not weaker, as Iowa draws ever closer -- a prospect that will send a shiver down the collective spine of the Washington political establishment.