Convention Bounce Expectation Spin

Cox — Bush aide foresees early lead for Kerry

Challenger John Kerry, who according to campaign sources is expected to announce his running mate this morning, will lead President Bush by 15 points when the Democratic convention wraps up at the end of July, according to a top Bush campaign adviser. In a memo to campaign leadership Monday, Matthew Dowd, Bush’s chief strategist, said Kerry is about to benefit from “the average challenger’s bounce.” “We should expect the race to swing wildly to his favor by early August,” Dowd, who remains confident Bush will win, said in the memo.

Current polls show a dead heat, but Dowd said Kerry could be up by a 55 percent to 40 percent margin in early August. Dowd also noted that Democratic National Committee chairman Terry McAuliffe predicted Sunday that Kerry would be up by 8 to 10 points following the convention. Dowd told campaign officials that history shows a challenger always gets a “dramatic, if often short-lived” bounce from the convention and the selection of a running mate.

My guess is the convention bounce will be less than usual, given ever-decreasing network coverage of the convention, the fact that the buzz from the Veep pick will be well over with by then, and the diminished number of true undecideds compared to previous races.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Bill K says:

    This is a great ploy by the bushies. Set expectations for Kerry high so you can energize your base when he doesn’t meet those expectations. I imagine Kerry’s camp will send out a similar “memo” stating how they expect for it to be close throughout.

  2. Nathan Hamm says:

    It is a great ploy. I actually got an email from the campaign yesterday that showed the historical bounces of the campaigns. It got across a “don’t freak out and despair” message pretty effectively (probably because it didn’t launch into any harsh attacks–just stuck to the facts).