The Geography of the Resistance in the Streets

Where do the participants of the marches in Washington, DC call home?  Are they the most motivated protesters from around the country or are they coming in to the District from the local area?

A recent poll by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Fund found a surge in protesting in the US, finding that 1 in 5 Americans have protested since the beginning of 2016. In their series on political crowds for the Monkey Cage, Erica Chenoweth and Jeremy Pressman have chronicled the millions of people who have turned out for these demonstrations around the country. However, we have yet to understand where people come from to participate in the Resistance in the Streets.

One of the questions on my survey is where people traveled from to attend.  With the responses from the 1,736 protest participants whom we sampled in the streets, I worked with Joshua Redmond and Lorien Jasny at the University of Exeter to map out the origins of what I call the Resistance in the Streets for the DC marches since the Resistance began.

In contrast to what many would expect (especially since these events were held concurrent with sister marches that took place all over the country), people reported traveling from around the US to participate in the main marches in Washington, DC. It is true that there was a large local presence with Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia ranking in the top five origins for participants at almost every Washington, DC March, (at the 2017 March for Science, the District of Columbia was not a top starting point).

Even though people traveled from all over the US to attend these marches, the representation from other states was not consistent across states.  In fact, representation was much higher from states on the West Coast than from more proximate states in the middle of America.

This map shows the origins of all of the participants sampled at large-scale protest events in DC since the inauguration: The 2017 Women’s March, the 2017 March for Science, the 2017 People’s Climate March, the March for Racial Justice, the 2018 Women’s March and the March for Our Lives. Taken together, we can see that participants at these events drew more from the coasts than from the middle of the US.

Although there are variations across each march, with some, like the locally coordinated 2018 Women’s March, drawing most participants from the East Coast, the pattern holds.  In other words, not only is the Resistance predominantly female and highly educated, the Resistance in the Streets of Washington DC is being (wo)manned by the coastal elite.Allmapranked