While the significance of party conventions and the usually guaranteed bounce in the polls that follows are debated, what has become abundantly clear following this year’s conventions is that this has become President Obama’s election to lose.
Gallup places the median bounce for a candidate in the polls immediately following their convention around five points. Nate Silver of The New York Times, who can only be described as a political statistician, places the average bounce for the challenger against an incumbent president since 1968 at around 11 points. Both numbers stand distant from the bounce that Gallup reports as negative one point for Governor Romney. This compared to a bounce estimated by Nate Silver at close to eight points for the president following the DNC.
Besides the obvious implications of underperforming on a national stage, there are the added historical implications, as pointed out by Nate Cohen of The New Republic.
In contests involving an incumbent president, the candidate with a higher share of the vote in Gallup polling following his convention has won every election since 1964. We can go further: No modern candidate has won the presidency without taking a lead after his own convention.
Also not boding well for the Republicans are the implications of the recent news that they will be pulling money out of both Pennsylvania and Michigan, effectively implying that their internal polls show they cannot win the two important states and making the route to 270 electoral votes even more difficult.
Democrats will basically begin the next stage of the race with 237 electoral votes guaranteed, versus the Republicans, who will begin with 191 electoral votes. Combine this with Obama out-raising Romney this month for the first time since April and the Romney campaign has a lot to worry about.
The evolving composition of the race has led Nate Silver to give the President an 80.7 percent chance of winning in November with 318.8 electoral votes.
These recent polls and forecasts may have led to a shift in the rhetoric used by the Romney campaign, as their attempts to hammer home their economic message have proven futile. While polls have shown that voters trust Romney more on the economy and creating jobs, they also show that voters trust and like Obama more personally, and more Americans now approve of the president’s job than those who disapprove.
This post-convention period may begin with a shift to a more concentrated attack on Obama personally, and a growth in the use of “dog whistles.” Dog whistles are coded messages, the likes of “welfare queens” used by Reagan and the “food-stamp president” by Gingrich.
These are the same dog whistles I inferred in my last article about Romney’s recent attack ads that blatantly lie about the president removing the requirement to work to receive welfare.
We may have already gotten a sneak peek at what Romney plans on doing next. After the Democrats voted at the last second to add the word “God” into their party platform, Romney responded in a rally in Virginia by reciting the Pledge of Allegiance and saying, “I will not take God out of our platform, I will not take God off our coins, and I will not take God out of my heart.”
All this while sharing the stage in Virginia with controversial televangelist Pat Robertson. Robertson is the same man who said 9/11 was a punishment for the “pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays, lesbians, the American Civil Liberties Union and the People For the American Way.”