News from the Votemaster
President Obama is starting to get the usual post-convention bump. A new Gallup poll released yesterday gives him a 52% approval rating, the highest he has had since Osama bin Laden went for a postmortem swim in May 2011. The poll is a rolling average of the three days of the Democratic National Convention, so some people were polled on Tuesday, before Bill Clinton or Obama spoke. It is very likely that the average for tomorrow and Monday will be higher. The big question is where Obama's approval will be 2 weeks from now. Convention bounces typically are short lived.
Gallup also asked people who they were planning to vote for. The results are that Obama is leading Romney nationally 48% to 45%. Of course, the national polls are only a broad indication of what is going on in the key swing states.
Conventions generally have become much less important than they used to be, especially since the nominee is no longer actually chosen in some smoke-filled room at the convention so there was a lot of suspense. Since every state now has a primary or caucus, drama at the convention is rare. Consequently, the networks have long stopped gavel-to-gavel coverage, and there is far more competition for voters' time from other television programs, the Internet, and electronic gadgets of all kinds. Probably 90% of the votes are locked in by the time the first convention rolls around so the entire show is aimed at a small slice of the electorate. There is some circumstantial evidence that the people who watch the conventions are highly partisan rather than the almighty undecideds. During the Republican convention, Fox News got the most viewers. During the Democratic convention, MSNBC got the most. The suggestion here is that the viewers are partisan and prefer listening to reporters who are on their side.
The bump this year may be especially short because the August unemployment numbers have come out and only 96,000 new jobs were added, although the unemployment rate has dropped from 8.3% to 8.1%. The Republicans will be sure to talk a lot about the small number of jobs added. Democrats will talk about how this is the 30th consecutive month in which the economy added jobs and how the unemployment rate is now lower than what it was the day Obama took office. Since the first debate is Oct. 3, the economy and what to do about it is likely to dominate the campaigns for the rest of September. Romney will blame Obama for the lack of job growth and Obama will say Romney wants to return to the Bush policies that caused the trouble in the first place.
More than 35 million people watched Obama's acceptance speech on three broadcast and 10 cable stations. Slightly fewer, 30 million, watched Romney's speech. Peak Tweet rate for Obama reached almost 53,000 tweets/min, triple Romney's peak tweak rate of 14,000 tweets/min. However, these numbers have to be taken in context. Obama's fans are much younger than Romney's and undoubtedly tweet a lot more than Romney's. If you doubt this, ask your grandma what her peak tweet rate is. Slightly more significant are the television viewing numbers because televsion viewers skew much older (and thus more Republican). One study puts the average age of a television viewer at 50. Nevertheless, for such an important event as Obama's speech, even young people might be willing to put down their mice for an hour to watch (while tweeting like crazy using their smartphones).
Another factor that may reduce the shelf life of Obama's bump is the massive ad campaign Romney is about to start in eight battleground states: Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia. Romney raised over $100 million last month and is now starting to spend it in large amounts. SuperPACs and other groups are also going to start huge ad campaigns now.
In a key development in one of the most important swing states, Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, has rescinded an order he gave to all 88 county boards of elections that defied a federal judge's ruling that he may not shut down early voting for the three days before the election for anyone not in the military or a spouse of a soldier. He was apologetic rather than combative in front of the judge, possibly worried about being cited for Contempt of Court. Nevertheless, the Republicans are still working to try to shut down the early voting three days before election day.
The first absentee ballots should be arriving in people's mail boxes in North Carolina today so any resident of the state who gets one and who watched both conventions and feels he or she knows enough can vote today. North Carolina is the first state to have early voting either by absentee ballot or in person. The next ones to start are Kentucky and Indiana, when absentee voting begins Sept. 17.
While early voting encourages more people to vote, it also has a down side. Some people may vote early, then hear something later on, for example, in one of the debates, that makes them change their mind. But it is too late. After having sent off that absentee ballot you can't run to your computer and type Ctrl-Z to unvote. Of course, the electorate has become so polarized that there are millions of voters who are so partisan that they would vote for a yellow dog before they would vote for the other party. The term Yellow Dog Democrat was a pejorative for the Southern slaveholders who weren't keen on Lincoln's freeing the slaves and wouldn't even consider voting for the Republicans. The "yellow dog" label is now used to describe extreme partisans on both sides.
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Previous HeadlinesSep07 Obama Accepts the Democratic Nomination
Sep07 Gabrielle Giffords Recites Pledge of Allegiance
Sep07 Villaraigosa Says Romney Will Push Immigrants to Self Deport
Sep07 Winners and Losers from the Democratic Convention
Sep07 Jobs Report Will Be Out Today
Sep07 European Central Bank Takes Action to Avert Crisis
Sep07 A New Generation of Kennedys Will Be in Congress in January
Sep06 The Big Dog Talks
Sep06 Elizabeth Warren Makes a Big Gamble
Sep06 Secret Service Investigating Alleged Theft of Romney's Tax Returns
Sep06 Obama's Speech Moved from Football Stadium to Basketball Arena
Sep06 God and Jerusalem Are Back in the Platform
Sep06 What is Debbie Wasserman Schultz's Future?
Sep05 Goode is Good Enough
Sep05 Democratic Convention Opens with Women and Latinos on Stage
Sep05 Conventions Are All Very Tightly Scripted
Sep05 Democrats Approve their Platform
Sep05 Politics and Typography
Sep05 Summary of the Republican Platform
Sep05 Summary of the Democratic Platform
Sep05 Comparison of the Platforms
Sep04 Democrats Reject Large Contributions to Pay for the Convention
Sep04 Voters Say Obama's Job Performance Does Not Warrant Another Term
Sep03 New Features Added Today
Sep03 Where Do We Stand Compared to 2008?
Sep03 Romney Does Not Get a Bump on Intrade
Sep03 No Bump for Romney in Florida Either
Sep03 Opportunities and Dangers for Charlotte
Sep03 Many Voter ID and Early Voting Cases in the Courts
Sep03 Latinos Gain Importance in North Carolina
Sep03 Democrats to Focus on 2012 but also 2016
Sep02 Why Didn't Obama Change Washington?
Sep02 Romney Campaigns in Ohio
Sep02 Valerie Jarrett is Obama's Spine
Sep02 Voting Starts this Month
Sep02 New York Attorney General Subpoenas Bain Documents
Sep01 Judge Allows Ohioans to Vote the Weekend before Election Day
Sep01 Fact Checkers Under Fire
Sep01 Al Gore Calls for an End to the Electoral College
Sep01 What Happens if the Republicans Win?
Aug31 Romney Accepts the Republican Nomination for President
Aug31 Republicans Speak to Latinos but Ignore Immigration
Aug31 Winners and Losers from the Convention
Aug31 Media Invent Euphemisms for Ryan's Speech without Saying He Lied
Aug31 What Obama Must Do in Charlotte
Aug31 Democrats Can't Find Their Voters
Aug30 Ryan Accepts Nomination, Attacks Obama on Medicare
Aug30 Ryan Speech Prompts Media Debate on How to Deal with Lying in Campaigns
Aug30 Republicans Give Women Starring Roles at Convention
Aug30 Race is Crucial in Election Calculations