Fagen: Don’t Expect a Big Bounce Out of Either Convention
In the future, party conventions will look very different than they do today. Gone will be the four days of speeches, hundreds of parties, and even the need for delegates to gather in one place.
Today, technology easily solves the need for a formal convention. We now live in an era of hyper media coverage. Voters see stories about Barack Obamaand Mitt Romneyevery time they look at their smart phone, glance at a blog, or flip through a cable news channel. Holding a convention to introduce a candidate is like holding a world’s fair to introduce us to other countries. Anyone with the Internet or cable TV is already aware of them. The holds true for candidates at all levels, especially presidential candidates. Yet, the press still covers the conventions as if they are the voters’ first chance to learn about the men who want to be President. (Read More: Romney Hurt by Democratic Attacks: Poll)
That’s not to say there isn’t important party business that takes place at these gatherings, but the need for candidates to raise millions of dollars to put on a week long show seems like a relic of the past. Starting in 1996 and working toward present day, a simple look at the amount of mentions 3 months prior to a challenger’s nominating convention (or the Party out of power in the case of 2000) on the Washington Post, USA Today, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Los Angeles Times via a Google News search shows a significant and increasing trend of press coverage before the main event.
While this search is hardly scientific study, the amount of mentions on the Internet sourced with these 5 newspapers shows an astronomical increase between 2008 and today. Twitter and Facebook, undoubtedly, have had a significant impact on this trend. (Read More: Will Obama or Romney Cost You Less?)
Considering this, we’re less likely to see a significant bounce out of either convention. Looking at historical Gallup polls between 1964 and 2008, surveys show that presidential candidates benefited from a post-convention “bounce” of about 5 points.
But the last two presidential races show smaller bounces. In 2004, President Bush garnered only a 2-point bounce, while Senator John Kerry actually lost ground during his convention. In 2008, both candidates received a 4-point bounce. Typically, a challenger would receive on average a 5.6 percent bounce - higher than the incumbent and based presumably on the fact that there was less media coverage of him prior to his convention. But, again, that wasn’t the case in 2004 or 2008.
Even if one of these candidates is able to alter the race, the occurrence of a significant convention bounce does not ensure success in November. In the last forty-eight years, the higher bounce has indicated success only 50% of the time. In two weeks, short of any major event or grounding breaking policy announcement, expect the presidential race to look very similar to how it does today.
Sara Taylor Fagen is a partner at DDC Advocacy and a former Political Director for President George W. Bush. She is also a CNBC contributor.