Just For the Record

Just to make certain that I’ve committed my predictions about the impact of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions to print/display, what I’ve been saying is that Mitt Romney will get a small boost from the RNC and, if the president gives roughly the same speech as he’s been giving for the last four years, he will get an even smaller lift in the polls from the DNC this week. On the other hand if he gives a barn-burner he could receive a much higher post-convention bump. Whether the conventions provide any lasting help to either campaign we’ll know in mid-September.

So far, so good. Based on the post-convention Rasmussen poll, Romney has gotten a small bump, consistent with my prediction. The RealClearPolitics composite of polls has Obama at +.1 or, said another way, too close to call.

21 comments… add one
  • As I noted last week over at OTB, Gallup’s numbers indicate that in general political conventions have had very little impact on the outcome of an election. Of the 15 elections since 1952, the candidate who was leading in the pre-convention polls ended up winning the election in 12 cases. That’s an 80% record that seems to indicate that the conventions don’t have as much impact as conventional wisdom would indicate.

    Source for the Gallup numbers here:


  • Those are all post-war results. The question of the hour, of course, is whether under present conditions they’re really relevant.

    My position continues to be what it has been since the beginning of the year: I think that the odds are slightly in favor of Obama being re-elected if for no other reason than that Americans tend to re-elect presidents, the popular vote will be very close—closer than last time around, and that the president’s re-election campaign is somewhat at the mercy of events.

  • jan Link

    OTB seems to brush aside Rasmussen numbers, as sampling too many R’s. However, putting them into the mix of post-election polling Romney achieved a +6 help in the polls — 48/44 in Romney’s favor (Romney went into the convention with a -2 ras number). Also, according to the Ipsos/Reuters poll, putting Romney ahead by 44/42 respectfully, a significant change polled was an increase in Romney’s likability number by something like 9-10 pts.

    Another poll out there is also showing more independents turning towards the R ticket, hence leaving the D one.

    What I brought up on the other blog (which was put down) is that much of the polling done so far has had an array of different variables incorporated into the polling method. Some have samplings high in dem participation +7, +11, which makes no sense, as even ’08 numbers were lower than that. More infrequently others have the R numbers out of sync. Then you have LVs, RV, adults only polling done, all of which will sway the results a little, one way or the other, as determined by what method is applied.

    However, Rasmussen indicates that more accurate polling will only be accomplished after Labor Day. While other people think the debates will play a significant role in a given candidate’s ways and means of winning this thing in November.

    It may just be me, however, intuitively, and counter to others, I tend to think that the edge is going to Romney. For one thing, with these close numbers, a determining factor could be those undecideds. And, historically, those votes break more for the challenger than for the encumbent.

  • jan Link

    Earlier this month I ran across this article: Barack Obama beating Mitt Romney in confidence game but will likely lose election.

    The writer, Michael Medved, besides being a writer, radio host, is also a polling wonk. Reading books on polling is what he does for fun and relaxation. And, what he has discovered, though historically perusing through his literature is this:

    Of the 34 who went to the voters and made an attempt to return to the White House, 19 succeeded and 15 failed—hardly a record of all-but-assured success.

    However, he further went on to bring out another relevant point:

    From the dawn of the republic, no president has ever won consecutive terms while drawing less support (in both the electoral college and the popular vote) in his second bid for election than he did in the first successful campaign. In other words, presidents who win reelection manage to earn more backers, not more opponents, during their first four years in the White House.

    This is what puts Obama in trouble, IMO. He has lost more people backing him than he has gained over the term of his presidency. There are tons of stories out there about ‘Obama remorse,’ which was even alluded to in the Eastwood improv act. Almost every constituency that he was able to grab onto last time, is showing a decrease in numbers for his ’12 run — from the youth vote, to Jewish, Blacks, blue collar — there is less enthusiasm and more of a ‘meh’ committment to this once political rock star.

    Now, maybe he will be able rekindle some of the love during his democratic convention fest. But, I still think the bloom is off the Obama rose, which makes it more iffy that he will get what he wants in November.

  • Over the period of the last 80 years, surely more relevant than the period before the American Civil War, among American presidents who sought re-election only Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush have failed to be re-elected.

  • PD Shaw Link

    James Fallows has a nice piece (again) on the pre-debate preview and he thinks the debates may be more important this year than most years. He credits Romney with being a good debater, something those of us (like me) have not seen might find surprising or might see as an exercise in expectation-setting. He believes Romney (a) needs prep time that he didn’t always get this primary season and (b) he sets his goals to achieve the needs of the moment and not much more.

    The most interesting graphsto me were:

    [Romney’s] analysis of any policy rarely moved past the level of abstraction: the problem is too much regulation, so the solution is less regulation, lower taxes, and more incentives for small-business growth. In his Kennedy debates and afterward, this reliance on generalities seemed to reflect both a political and a professional outlook. Politically, a Republican skepticism of govern­ment in general reduces the incentive to learn the fine points of difference among public programs. Professionally, Romney’s background as a consultant and private-equity investor has conditioned him to offer his managerial skills and analytic ability, and to worry about specific answers only after he’s been signed on to deal with a troubled enterprise. . . . . “Businessmen and consultants like to sell in glowing generalities, because they are never sure what unexpected things they’ll find when they dig into your problems,” he said.

    . . .

    When matched up against Obama, Robert Reich said, Romney “is going to be debating somebody who is not nearly as good a debater as his reputation.” For all his accomplishments as an orator, Reich said, the president under real-time questioning “can seem kind of wooden”—interestingly, the same word he used about Romney—“and even at a loss for words.”

    Romney’s kryptonite: surprise.

  • jan Link


    Did you watch any of the republican primary debates — there certainly were enough of them?

    BTW, nice excerpts from Fallows article.

  • “You can always accuse them of errors of detail, sir. There are always some errors of detail”

  • jan Link

    Here is a list of potential potholes facing the dems in their week of showing off their party:

    DNC preview: the democrats convention trap

  • TastyBits Link


    I think a lot of people have tuned-out the politics, and this is another factor not being considered. The pollsters try to account for it, but they cannot tell why nobody answers the phone.

    The only group in play are the dissatisfied Obama voters. Many of them will not vote for Romney, but if he can convince them he is acceptable, they will not vote for Obama. I doubt the polls are correctly reflecting this group.

    Obama is also trying to get the slacker vote. They came out in 2008 because of the excitement – combined Burning Man & Phish concert.

  • Andy Link

    Over the period of the last 80 years, surely more relevant than the period before the American Civil War, among American presidents who sought re-election only Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush have failed to be re-elected.

    True, and this could be one of those years given the economy. Still, I’m giving the President a slight advantage for a few reasons:

    1. His overwhelming support by minorities
    2. Huge advantage among women.
    3. Romney’s unlikability
    4. The President’s has a campaign money advantage which will translate into a better ground game.

  • jan Link


    Some comments about your points:

    1. Obama will certainly receive the lion’s share of the minority vote. However, I don’t think it will be quite the chunk it was in ’08. There has been some speculation he may drop down as much as 85% of the AA vote, whereas it was in the 9o+ percentile in the last election.

    2. While Obama enjoys a larger percentage of unmarried women’s support, Romney seems to attract married women.

    3. Obama’s negative ads have adversely effected some of his ‘likability’ numbers. Also, one thing the R convention seemed to stir was a higher number for Romney in this area. Time will only tell if it holds, or even spreads out to become a more competitive one.

    4. I’m not sure where you’ve gotten this idea. Certainly in ’08 there was a sizable money advantage to McCain — something like three to one — especially as Obama changed course and decided to forego the matching fund pact made with McCain earlier. However, this time around, Romney is doing very well, with his own funding as well as with outside PAC money. Also, he feels financially comfortable enough to share his good fortune with others running (Senate and House races), while Obama is keeping it all for himself, and is constantly emailing for more. There is a good piece over at the WSJ about this.

  • jan Link


    Yeah, some people have gotten pretty sick of the political game, and like icepick are too frustrated to vote for anyone.

    I don’t know, though, how hot and heavy the slacker vote can be counted on this time around, as the enthusiasm meter seems to not be registering much with this group.

  • I’m certainly not enthusiastic about this election. Unless either of these candidates comes up with a stroke of brilliance, I might, for the first time, join Ice in abstaining.

    I’m sick of the squabbling in lieu of prudent action.

  • Maybe I’ll paint the guest bath on election day.

  • Here’s a handy demographic breakdown of the 2008 presidential vote. I honestly don’t think that the percentages of votes cast for the various demographic groups will be much different this time around.

    The real question is turnout. The Obama campaign needs to get a substantial black and youth voter turnout.

  • steve Link

    Could come down to the old people vote. In 2010, IIRC, the GOP had a 21% plurality in the over 65 group. The scare tactics over Medicare worked well. I think they are trying to do this again. Note that they just pulled the cap off Medicare spending for the Romney plan. (Even more evidence they are not serious about cutting our debt. It is just a means fro getting elected.)


  • TastyBits Link


    I do not mean that people will sit this one out. The pissed-off voters are not interested in politics, but they are anxiously awaiting election day. I suspect they are not answering the “unknown” callers, or they are giving bullsh*t answers.

    The only way to verify this will be election night. If it is an R wave, I am right. Otherwise, I am wrong.

    I will pull the Romney lever, but I do not expect much. A company is not like Congress. Most companies have most people pulling in the same general direction. Congress is PigBearMan – half pig, half bear, and half man.

  • Drew Link


    Romney is going to win.

  • Andy Link


    WRT #4, there are two kinds of money – there’s the superpac money which will get largely spent on advertising and then there is the actual campaign money that the candidates can use for just about anything. Last I checked, the President had a sizable lead in campaign money and Romney had a sizable lead in superpac money. My theory is that the President’s lead in campaign money along with his established campaign organization will be the difference that puts him over the edge, though I agree with Dave that it’s really too close to call. As Dave also suggests, this election could hinge on turnout and that’s where a good ground game can give a candidate the advantage. Superpac ads, by themselves, don’t get people to the polls.

  • The only things that a President or Congress can do is set an environment whereby the real job creators, the private sector, can prosper.

    Then we’re in for a world of hurt. In just 18 months of the last contraction the economy the economy shed nearly 9 million jobs. Since the contraction ended there’s been a return to trend and the economy has sent about 4 million of those people back to work. Based on NBER stats we’re now overdue for another contraction by the standards of the post-WWII economy.

    Excluding bubbles, the U. S. economy has grown too slowly for the last twenty years and that was in the most favorable tax and regulatory environment in decades. Except for one year of the Reagan administration and one year of the Bush 41 term, the top personal income tax rate was the lowest it had been since 1931.

    If a President Romney were to further lower personal income taxes, maintain a stable regulatory environment, increase military spending, maintain Medicare spending, and impose a duty on Chinese goods (as he’s promised), and that’s it, would the rate of job creation increase, slow, or stay the same? I think that at the very best it would stay the same and we would be in substantial danger of actually losing jobs. That’s not good enough.

Leave a Comment