Good seats, still available

GOOD SEATS, STILL AVAILABLE…. The NYT briefly mentioned attendance numbers at the right-wing Tea Party convention in Nashville.

The convention had gathered here to try to turn the activism of the Tea Party rallies over the last year into actual political power. Her speech was the keynote event of the convention, and the big draw for many of the 600 people who had paid $549 to attend — another 500, organizers said, paid $349 just to see for her speech alone.

I’ve seen competing totals — ABC News said there were “nearly” 600 activists on hand for the event — but let’s just go ahead and round up, and say there were 600 people who showed up.

Maybe it’s just me, but doesn’t that seem like pretty weak turnout?

Granted, there was a controversy within the “movement” about the nature of the event, its organizers, and its profit margin. It seems likely that the crowd could have been larger were it not for ticket prices and the “sketchy” nature of the convention.

But even after acknowledging this relevant context, what we’re left with is an event with 600 participants and a grand total of zero current House members, senators, or governors. There were, by some estimates, 200 journalists on hand to cover this convention, creating a bizarre dynamic — one reporter for every three participants.

It’s all terribly odd. The first Netroots Nation gathering (the conference formally known as Yearly Kos) had 1,400 attendees. The Tea Party convention had less than half this total.

The media attention seems a little disproportionate to what, by all appearances, was an underwhelming get-together.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.