Do Political Conventions Make A Difference Anymore?
WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Tens of thousands of delegates showed up to the Republican and Democratic conventions, while millions around the nation tuned in. But with virtually no “convention bounce” for Mitt Romney, and with advisers not expecting much of one for President Obama, do these conventions matter much anymore?
It’s a question some may ask a day after the opening NFL game between the Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants outdid former President Bill Clinton’s much-anticipated speech during the Democratic National Convention.
Meanwhile, a Gallup poll released immediately after the Republican National Convention was over showed that Romney gained no ground on Obama, in fact, he lost a percentage point, falling behind the president 47 to 46 percent based on registered voters.
Top Obama advisers are not anticipating a bounce, if at all, following Thursday night’s speech. White House senior adviser David Plouffe told ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday he expects the race to remain “tight as a tick” until Election Day.
Gallup reports that Romney became the third nominee, and first Republican, not to receive any sort of bounce. The other two, George McGovern in 1972 and John Kerry in 2004, were in the same boat as Romney facing an incumbent president. Dating back to 1964, every other presidential nominee averaged a five point bump following the convention.
Political analysts are not surprised with the lack of poll movement during and after the conventions, especially with how divided the electorate is in this tight presidential race.
Larry Sabato, director at the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, doesn’t feel the lack of movement will hurt either Romney or Obama.
“My bet is that people are so dug in this year that any poll bounce will have disappeared by late September, if not before,” Sabato told CBSDC.
Sabato added that nowadays people don’t really have the time or desire to watch drawn out convention processes.
“Other formats are being discussed — events scheduled in four or five key states over several days, for example. Voting can be done electronically,” Sabato said. “Most people wouldn’t complain if these dinosaurs went extinct for 2016.”
Kevin O’Neill, a partner at Patton Boggs LLP – a lobbying and law firm – tells CBSDC that despite the lack of bounce, conventions still play an important role in the political process.
“I do think that it has that hour of power still very important in branding the candidates. You see that with the speeches that Ann Romney and Michelle Obama gave,” O’Neill explained. “Even though ratings are not what they used to be, tens of millions of Americans are tuning in to get an unfiltered look at them.”
O’Neill added that undecided voters are not ready to make up their minds quite yet.
“Most of the undecided are not watching the conventions and their minds will be made up within the next 60 days,” he said.
Despite not getting an immediate convention bounce, Romney’s stock has gone up in key battleground states.
Of the 11 key swing states tracked by Rasmussen Reports, Romney holds a 47 to 44 percent lead over Obama.
“I think you’ve seen Romney perk up in the polls among likely voters,” O’Neill said. “He has made a real significant gain in virtually every battleground state.”
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