James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist


  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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The Obama convention bump, and the McCain bump in the road

Posted by James McPherson on September 2, 2008

If the polls are to be believed (and as I’ve written before, at this point they shouldn’t be taken too seriously), Barack Obama apparently got a perhaps-significant bump out of the Democratic National Convention. The lastest Gallup national tracking poll has him getting 50 percent of registered voters, up from 41 percent early in the convention (right in line with the 8-12 percent increase I predicted).

Of course other polls have Obama moving up much less, if at all, illustrating that negligible value of these things at this point. But the media and bloggers on both sides keep using them to support faulty arguments.

For the record, I expect the GOP to get a much smaller boost from its convention, partly because it was shaping up to be less interesting to begin with (no stadium, older candidate, less conflict), partly because of Hurricane Gustav and the many political and personal questions surrounding Sarah Palin and her place on John McCain’s ticket.

McCain’s convention probably won’t copy the John Kerry trick of four years ago of actually bringing his party farther down, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see things stay where they are, and I’d be surprised at a jump of more than two or three points.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see Sarah Palin draw a bigger audience Wednesday than John McCain does Thursday if their speeches are on consecutive nights. The Republicans may want to stay with their hurricane-induced proposal of having both speak on the same night, the last night of the convention. After all the Dems won’t be able to counter the next day with something as dramatic as what the Republicans did last Friday.

On the other hand, though I don’t expect it, the GOP may do something equally dramatic on bad-news Friday.

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