Two national polls were released today. CNN has Obama by 7 points nationally, and FOX-fer-gods-sake News by 9. Those numbers are identical to where they were three weeks ago, before Mitt Romney selected Paul Ryan as his running mate.
Of course, these polls only measure the national horse race, and what really matters are the battleground states. But perception is huge in national elections, and Americans hate to back a loser. Reports from Tampa are that after Romney’s speech, even delegates to the convention appeared dispirited and glum as they filed out of the arena. The more Obama looks like an inevitable winner, the more likely he is to become an actual one.
These polls were conducted prior last night’s…um…unique climax to the RNC, so they don’t reflect any possible convention bounce, but I don’t expect Romney to get much, if any such help. Here’s why:
Romney announced his selection of Paul Ryan earlier than he should have, because he was desperate to shift the national conversation away from his tax returns and record at Bain Capital. Given that Romney isn’t exciting or particularly liked in the first place, the VP pick was probably going to be the biggest driver of any convention-driven improvement in his numbers.
Because he announced his selection early, it’s been long enough that any such bounce would already have shown up in the polls. Yet with the exception of Wisconsin, where the GOP ticket has seen slight improvement—but the President still leads—there has been no sign that Paul Ryan has much helped Romney’s prospects.
Now we are done with a convention that is perceived by many as having been a disaster for the GOP. The big takeaways from this year’s RNC are that Paul Ryan is a lying lying liar and Clint Eastwood lost an argument with an empty chair; the more insider-baseball stories which will undermine GOP voter enthusiasm are the suppression of Ron Paul delegates through passage of a rather Stalinist rule change, and the fact that Romney himself does not support the party’s platform plank on abortion, which certainly can’t be pleasing social conservatives. Of course, that position could change, because with Romney, it usually does.
TV ratings for Ryan’s big speech were only slightly more than half what they were for Palin on the same night in 2008, even though Ryan—being unfamiliar to many voters—should arguably have been the biggest draw of the convention besides Eastwood. Sarah Palin may be a dim bulb, but she’s charismatic to conservatives. You don’t tend to find “Paul Ryan” and “charismatic” in the same sentence; he just ain’t no Sarah Palin. And that’s another serious problem for the GOP ticket, because given the sharply reduced audience, those who were watching this convention were almost certainly the Republican base, rather than undecided voters.
Maybe, given its content, that’s a plus for them, actually.
The upshot of all this is that Romney’s last real opportunity to make a positive impression on the American people is over, and unless I am very much mistaken, he failed in that task. Which is a serious problem for him, because America really, really doesn’t like him.
Meanwhile, Nate Silver notes that economic indicators are improving somewhat, undermining the GOP argument and strengthening the incumbent. His model now shows Obama over 70% likely to win.
The DNC is up next, and we know that one speaker, at least, has the chops to draw and retain viewer attention. Like it or not, America smells like teen spirit, and the incumbent President knows how to make his case while entertaining us.
It’s still a long way to November, but the Romney/Ryan ticket is running out of options. Looks like they’re stuck with spend that money and lie, baby, lie.
At publication, the Dragon was ANALYTICAL