Romney Convention Speech Receives Mediocre Ratings In New Poll

According to a new poll, Mitt Romney’s convention speech was among the least well received speeches going back many years:

Americans scored Mitt Romney’s GOP convention speech the lowest since Bob Dole’s acceptance speech in 1996, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

Following the Republican National Convention in Tampa, 40 percent of voters said that they were more likely to support Mitt Romney for president, compared to 38 percent who were less likely — a net impact of +2.

This is lowest net impact for a convention going back to 1984. By comparison, the 2008 GOP convention featuring Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was +5, and that year’s Democratic convention nominating Barack Obama was +14.

Meanwhile, Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech received the lowest marks since Bob Dole’s in 1996: 38 percent of respondents said that Romney’s speech was “excellent” or “good.”

That figure is lower than McCain’s in 2008 (47 percent), Obama’s in that same year (58 percent), Bush’s in 2004 (49 percent), and Kerry’s that same year (52 percent).

That said, as Gallup points out, the relationship between how the public reacts to a convention speech and the outcome of an election is, at best, mixed:

The relationship between Americans’ reports of whether the convention affected their vote and the final outcome of the election is mixed.

  • Barack Obama’s Democratic convention in 2008 generated a net impact score of +14. Obama, of course, went on to win in November 2008 by a seven-percentage-point margin in the popular vote.
  • But John Kerry’s Democratic convention in 2004 also had a net impact score of +14, significantly higher than the +3 of 2004’s Republican convention. Kerry, however, lost the election to Bush, the Republican nominee.
  • The 1992 Democratic convention generated the largest net impact in Gallup’s records; at that time, 60% of Americans said it made them more likely to vote for Bill Clinton and 15% said it made them less likely. Clinton won the popular vote in 1992 by 5 ½ points.
  • Americans were also quite positive on a relative basis after the Democratic convention in 1988, in which Michael Dukakis was nominated. But Dukakis went on to lose in November of that year.

All of that notwithstanding, though, the Romney campaign would have obviously preferred if the Convention speech were having a bigger outcome on the course of the election and the polls. In an election year where the nation remains high p0larized and there are fewer persuadable voters than there used to be, though, this is likely the best that they can expect.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. MBunge says:

    “this is likely the best that they can expect.”

    They could have expected better if Romney would have gotten on that stage and given a speech that made it clear he had a real, believable plan to address the concerns of voters. Instead, we got a speech that seemed to reflect Karl Rove’s fantasy of a permanent Republican majority where all that was necessary was to convince the naturally GOP-leaning electorate that it would be okay for them to “break up” with that nice black man currently in the White House.


  2. sam says:

    He had a very tough act to follow.

  3. @Doug: If convention speeches do not matter, why are you writing about polls about the speech? Is not the process of trying to measure the ramifications of the speech an acknowledgment that the speech matters at least a little? 😉

  4. al-Ameda says:

    The speech was very pedestrian, and as best he could, Romney strived to present himself as a nice guy who has worked hard to overcome the obstacles of inherited wealth. At that level he succeeded.

    I am not sure what could have helped him. Look at the lead in – although Eastwood bombed, imagine if Ann Romney or Marco Rubio had immediately preceded him – the effect would have been the same, a massive loss of energy following solid presentations.

    Mitt got it done – no gaffes. That was the best that could be expected.

  5. bill says:

    some people prefer a “charismatic leader’ to sell them things that don’t work, i don’t. romney’s stiff but genuine- obama sells used cars to unwitting buyers. romney has a long history of success, obama not so much. just my $.02.