Very Little Convention Bounce For Romney In Early Polls
The immediate polling the wake of the Republican National Convention isn’t showing much of a post-convention bounce for the Romney/Ryan ticket:
The most favorable number for Mr. Romney is from the Rasmussen Reports tracking poll. That survey showed him pulling into a 3-point lead against President Obama on Saturday. All of the interviews in the Rasmussen poll were conducted after the convention began, although only about one-third were conducted after Mr. Romney’s acceptance speech on Thursday night.
The Rasmussen poll represents a 5-point swing toward Mr. Romney from the polling firm’s final survey before the conventions, when it had Mr. Obama ahead by two points. But it does not read quite as strongly for him as compared to the long-term average of Rasmussen polls, which have had Mr. Romney ahead by about one percentage point on average over the past 60 days.
Another survey, an online tracking poll conducted by the polling firm Ipsos, had previously shown a decent-sized bounce for Mr. Romney — but it hassince receded some. In the version of the poll that Ipsos released on Saturday, Mr. Obama led by one percentage point, 44-43, among likely voters. That’s a better result for Mr. Romney than the survey the firm conducted prior to the conventions, when Mr. Romney had trailed by four points. But it reflects a reversal from Thursday, when Mr. Romney was up by two points in the poll.
The most sluggish of the tracking polls is from Gallup, which reports its results over a lengthy seven-day window. That means that only about half its interviews occurred after the start of the convention, and a smaller fraction than that will represent people surveyed after Mr. Romney’s acceptance address.
However, the trend so far in the Gallup poll is a bit disappointing for Mr. Romney; the survey still shows Mr. Obama one point ahead. By comparison, the Gallup poll has had a 46-46 tie on average over the past 60 days.
We’ll need to wait another day or two before we can make a more confident judgement on the size of Mr. Romney’s bounce, but the information we have so far points toward its being a little underwhelming.
It should be noted that, since the article linked above was posted, Rasmussen has released its latest update to the Daily Tracking Poll this morning which puts the race at Romney 48% Obama 44%, a four point advantage for Romney. As Nate Silver notes, one factor for the lack of movement in the polls post-convention, at least so far, is likely due to the fact that viewership was down significantly from either of the party conventions four years ago. When you have fewer people watching, for whatever reason, you’re not going to see much movement in the polls. It’s also worth noting that the network news coverage of the convention, the method by which most viewers who did watch saw the proceedings, only provided one hour of coverage a night. This means that, even many of the people who did watch the convention only saw very limited parts of it. And, of course, Hurricane Isaac obviously diverted the attention of many people away from the goings on in Tampa. As for the non-viewers, if they did see any news coverage of the convention at all it was likely the silly stuff like the Clint Eastwood “performance,” which pretty much sucked up all of the news cycle on the day after the most important speech of Mitt Romney’s political career. Add to that the end of the convention coincided with the beginning of the Labor Day holiday weekend, and it’s easy to understand why people weren’t watching, and why the convention doesn’t appear to be giving Romney much of the lift in the polls.
In reality of course, the importance of the convention bounce is vastly overstated by political pundits and reporters. On average, according to Gallup’s figures, the average bounce has been about five points (the largest was Bill Clinton’s post-convention bounce of 16 points in 1992), but in most cases the relative difference between the two candidate’s bounces has only been about two or three points. This means that, after all the dust settles, conventions tend to only have a negligible impact on the state of the race. Given the fact that the race to date this year has been, as James Joyner has described it, a “steady state election,” it’s likely that the bounces for both candidates from their conventions are likely to be small to non-existent. Perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind, though, is the fact that, going back to 1952, the candidate who was leading before the conventions ended up winning the election eighty percent of the time. In other words, the much ballyhooed “convention bounce” isn’t nearly as important as the breathless pundits want you to think it is.
There is some good news in the early post-convention polling for Mitt Romney, though. There seems to be at least some indication that his likability numbers are improving, which is in some ways more essential than what happens to the top line numbers in a national poll. If that continues to replicate itself in the polls that will come out later this week, then it could potentially help Romney overcome some of his inability to break through in some of the battleground states. Also likely making the folks in Boston happy is the fact that the national polls have been showing a closer rater of late, with Romney risking and the President falling ever so slightly. You can see that phenomenon in the latest RealClearPolitics chart, where the average for the national polls gives Obama an ever-so-slim +0.1 advantage:
Of course, all of this could end up being reversed by a week from now once the Democrats have taken their turn in Charlotte. The President is likely to get at least some up-tick in the polls from the convention, and the likely constant attacks on Romney and Ryan from the dais could end up blunting their rise in the polls. In the end, though, I expect that, in the week after the Democratic Convention, we will find that the race is roughly where it was before the conventions started. That’s not necessarily good news for either candidate.
Photo via The Baltimore Sun