An underwhelming convention

2012-09-04 15:26
Ann Romney, wife of US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, waves after addressing the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. (AP, File)

Ann Romney, wife of US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, waves after addressing the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida. (AP, File)

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New York - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, for the most part, did what he set out to do at the Republican National Convention last week. No one really messed up, and Hurricane Isaac didn't take all the news cameras away.

Ron Paul's insurgent followers didn't manage to screw the convention around and Ann Romney, Mitt's wife, delivered a superb humanising personal talk about her husband.

The speeches were well received by Republicans and the party's supporters – even Clint Eastwood's, which was directed to an empty chair.
But the convention hasn't quite caused a noticeable bump in the polls, which one would have expected.

Owning prime time for a week among an audience that follows politics (as anyone who watched the convention on TV would most likely does) often provides a nice little predictable upshot – particularly when it goes off without any significant hitch.

In fact, other than the presidential debates, the party convention is one of the best ways to enjoy a little respite from the hounding attacks from the opposition and watch your numbers tick up while you own the news.

Out of context

It's a freebie! Own the airwaves and talk totally from your party's point of view with no interference from the pesky Democrats.
And while the convention went to plan, and Republicans and Romney didn't mess anything up, they didn't really set the airwaves alight. Bounces in the polls have been marginal so far (although there will be more polls to come which could show a difference).

Some of the conservative press is screeching about a four-point lead for Romney nationally in a post-convention Rasmussen poll, but they aren't contextualising it properly by telling you that Rasmussen had Romney up two points before the convention anyway.

Rasmussen polls also tend to favour Republicans. Gallup's Sunday poll also showed an increase of one percentage point from the beginning of the month compared to Sunday. That's well within the margin of error, but compounds the point that Republicans didn't gain any significant early impact from their convention, and Democrats still have an opportunity to make theirs count.
We can all ask why (and I plan on writing up a more detailed answer later this week), but the fact remains that Republicans have two opportunities remaining to stick it to the president: The presidential debates and the October Surprise (a surprising incident near the election which can change the race dynamic – think of how the start of the recession in 2008 resulted in John McCain beginning a slide backwards, or how the Iran hostage situation hurt Jimmy Carter in 1976).


There is also a vice-presidential debate between Democrat Joe Biden and Republican Paul Ryan, but I doubt that it will do much to or for either party.
I think it is also worth pointing out that many people looked at the television ratings as proof of a lame convention, but comparing this year's convention to 2008's, when Sarah Palin was the highlight (in spite of her being the VP and not the presidential candidate) is a misnomer.

Sarah Palin set off interest in America like no vice-presidential candidate had ever before. For goodness sake the whole world was watching the Republican National Convention that year.
To compound Republicans' poll stagnancy problem, Democrats have the opportunity this week to hammer at their convention. All eyes on the news networks from Tuesday.

Read more on:    barack obama  |  simon williamson  |  mitt romney  |  us  |  us elections 2012

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