Friday, August 31, 2012

Republican Convention: Immediate Aftermath

After the final turn of the crank Mitt Romney popped out of the Republican jack-in-the-box to accept the nomination he's been six years in seeking. The Republican convention went off, to my eye, very well--to be sure, not perfectly (Team Obama managed to buy time on several electronic billboards around the Tampa convention center--and there was the Ron Paul thing) but despite a national emergency dropping in ... it wasn't a disaster.

The smoke hasn't cleared yet (Read: we don't have post-convention polling numbers yet and even those won't matter much until the Democrats have had their shot and the race has settled from that) but let's look at what we do know.

The Good The Bad And The Ugly
The Hill weighs in with a list of winners, losers, and mixed. Notable? 

  • Paul Rayn--speech of the convention. Guy for 2016 or 2020.
  • Rand Paul--Has a bright future. Not as isolated as dad.
  • Christie--used "I" and "me" 40 times while only mentioning Romney in the latter half of his address.
  • Clint Eastwood--It is safe to say that the actor/director will not be joining Romney on the road this fall. His "unexpected" speech allegedly had Romney staffers wincing as he addressed an empty chair representing President Obama. Obama tweets back:
  • Most Tweeted Image of the ENTIRE Convention ... Woah
  • Ron Paul supporters--effectively shut down
  • Senate Republicans--Akin hangs on.
  • Mitt Romney--solid speech--but not electrifying.
Nate Silver calls Romney's speech "prudent" which is likely not what he was aiming for--but getting the job done is getting the job done even if you don't look amazing doing it. He shows the word analysis: IMO? Not bad.
Better America(ns) President is not bad for the top score 
Former RNC chair (and ever-thorn in side of RNC) Michael Steele felt that the speeches were too self-centered:
“One of the distractions, quite frankly, in this whole narrative week was everyone talking about themselves and not Mitt Romney,” said Steele on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe.” “The campaign signing off on this in speeches that had, the first 20 minutes in some cases, and Mitt Romney’s name is not mentioned.”
Well, Michael, that 2016 Chris Christie run won't kick itself off ...

On the other hand, while Romney may have gotten some "average" reviews, there were plenty of raves. Politico says Mitt 2.0 succeeds and notes his joke:

And Romney is hoping the rest of America feels the same way. He is now so comfortable with the whole Mormon thing, he even made a joke about it, saying that his early days at Bain Capital were rough.

“I thought of asking my church’s pension fund to invest, but I didn’t,” Romney said. “I thought it would be bad enough if they lost money, but I didn’t want to go to hell, too.”

The Bump
 As I said, the big question is the bump--with Isaac sucking the air (and a day) out of the convention, limited media coverage, and a workman-like if not stellar set of speeches (nothing compared to Sarah Palin's 2008 speech--although Ryan's maybe came close) the big question is "will Romney get a bounce?"

PredictWise, the real-time election-analysis using Internet prediction markets shows "no bump:"
Give It Some Time?
And Nate Silver posits that while this may be a "base election" the Base-Turnout Strategy may not be enough for Romney:
[S]uppose that the turnout demographics this year look like 2004, when 77 percent of the electorate was white. Furthermore, suppose that Mr. Romney receives the same proportion of the white vote that George W. Bush did in 2004.
However, we’ll assume that Mr. Obama does retain one advantage from 2008. Although fewer minorities turn out, those that do vote for him in the same proportions as 2008, meaning that he gets about 95 percent of the African-American vote, and about two-thirds of the vote from Hispanics, Asians and other racial minorities.
These assumptions yield a very close election — but Mr. Obama wins the popular vote. Specifically, he wins it by about 1.7 percentage points.
 Still, and RCP show the race as close as it's been in weeks--virtually neck and neck with key swing-states looking more swingy-all the time. So we'll have to wait and see--probably until after the Democratic convention.

What Do I Think?
I'm curious to see how the PoliticIT score and the Twindex both track with poll changes. PEC's analysis puts Obama at about 88% likely to win but note their prediction model is only good for 40-days-out. The Twindex shows Romney passing up Obama by an 18pt margin today. So there's "movement"--but will it play out ... and is it meaningful?

I think that Romney did as good a job here as he really could've: He is faced with a paradox. A "generic Republican" will win the middle this election--and thus, the presidency. A seriously conservative Republican may lose the middle--but is necessary to win the base ... and thus ... the election. So Romney has to straddle both as well as he can--while appearing human and natural doing it. That's no simple task.

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