News

Democrats and Republicans hope to exploit Bounce Factor

Multimedia

Audio

 

Political analysts are paying close attention to fluctuations in the popularity of the U.S. presidential candidates in the wake of last week’s Democratic National Convention in Denver, Colorado, and this week’s convention of the Republican Party in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Some observers expect the events to yield an increase in the popularity of both nominees, Republican candidate John McCain, and his Democratic opponent, Barack Obama. Professor of Political Science at Duke University John Aldrich told Voice of America English to Africa Service reporter, Darren Taylor these boosts often don’t last very long, but can be a “useful guide” as to what to expect in the near future.

American political commentators call it the “bounce” or “bump,” and it usually happens after the two major parties hold their national conventions. Simply put, they say, it’s a short-term surge in popularity ratings for candidates following the glitz and glamour of the gatherings they hold to consolidate ahead of a presidential election.

Candidates usually gain between five and eight points in popular opinion polls immediately after the conventions, but these increases usually taper off fairly rapidly as “normal” campaigning resumes ahead of the polls.

U.S. political scientist John Aldrich says the reasons behind the ‘bounce’ phenomenon aren’t difficult to understand.

“One of them is that the party has just had an entire week, basically alone on television and other media, to make its case before the public. And second, and very closely related of course, is that the nominee…is able to make his case to the public for more or less the first time when everybody’s paying attention and saying, ‘Okay, now it’s getting serious; let’s pay attention to who these two (candidates) are going to be.”

Aldrich is professor of political science at Duke University, a former co-editor of the American Journal of Political Science and the winner of multiple awards for his writing, which includes several books on U.S. elections.

He says “probably the most famous example” of the “bounce” experience occurred in 1988, and concerned former Democratic presidential candidate Michael Dukakis.

“He got a bounce after his nomination (at the convention but) it went away and George H.W. Bush was able to win the election.”

After the Democratic convention in 1988, Dukakis was about 17 points ahead of the Republican George H.W. Bush. But the Bush campaign then attacked him, accusing him of being weak with regard to fighting crime, and Dukakis’s lead had faded by the time the Republicans held their convention. The event provided Bush with a significant “bounce” and, unlike Dukakis, the Bush campaign was able to sustain its momentum going into the polls.

In 1980, Republican candidate Ronald Reagan emerged from his party’s national convention with a big lead of 16 percentage points over the Democrats’ Jimmy Carter, but this “bounce” in Reagan’s popularity quickly disappeared after the Democratic convention, which followed. Nevertheless, Reagan still went on to win the 1980 election by a large margin. Four years later, the Republican convention helped “bump” Reagan’s popularity up by as much as 25 points, and he held the advantage over Democratic candidate Walter Mondale throughout the rest of the campaign.

Aldrich also refers to a more recent example of the “bounce” phenomenon, in 1992, the year in which the Democrat’s Bill Clinton was first nominated for president.

“He was behind (the Republican’s George H.W. Bush in terms of popularity) and got a substantial boost after the convention, and it set him on course for his successful election bid.”

But Aldrich emphasizes that “most of the time the bounce goes away.” For example, former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry’s popularity increased after his party’s convention in 2004, but he ended up losing the election to President George W. Bush.

“The magnitude of the convention bump is not a great predictor of an election outcome,” says Aldrich. Still, he maintains that the phenomenon should provide a “useful guide” to what to expect during the election.

He’s convinced that the post-convention boost in popularity provides the candidates with a great opportunity to build upon the surge and to sustain it going into the polls. Aldrich says Bill Clinton in 1992 saw the value in his “bump” and exploited it to become president.

“He and (then-Democratic running mate and later U.S. vice-president) Al Gore embarked on a nationwide bus tour that continued to keep attention focused on their nomination and kept the convention bounce high for a much longer period of time.”

Analysts say Clinton’s strategy after his convention triumph in 1992 still stands in stark contrast to that of Dukakis, who seemed to stop campaigning after the 1988 convention and didn’t capitalize on his subsequent increase in popularity. Dukakis thereby faded from public attention and allowed the Republicans to reclaim the spotlight and win the White House.

But, says Aldrich, time is against Obama reaping reward from his post-convention boost.

“Barack Obama this time won’t have the opportunity to take advantage of that because we’ve turned immediately from the Democratic convention into the Republican convention.”

The gap between the two conventions this year was just three days -- much shorter than in past elections -- and also coincided with the three-day national holiday weekend in observance of Labor Day. This, analysts say, has made it very difficult for pollsters to gauge public opinion to measure the impact that the Democratic convention has had on Obama’s popularity. And the focus then shifted almost immediately to the Republicans, with their national convention in Minneapolis.

The time factor, says Aldrich, has placed the Republicans at an advantage. Following the Democratic Party’s convention in Denver last week, opinion polls revealed no significant increase in Obama’s popularity. They say there’s still little to separate him and Republican candidate John McCain as the election approaches. Analysts also feel that McCain’s announcement of the little-known governor of Alaska, Sarah Palin, less than 12 hours after the Democratic showpiece event, slowed news coverage of Obama’s and his party’s impressive performance and dented his prospects of getting a big ‘bounce.’

However, a CNN poll taken after the convention reveals that people who watched the event – the most watched political convention in history – were more likely to vote for Obama. CNN Polling Director Keating Holland told the network, “Sixty-four percent rated Obama’s acceptance speech as excellent or good, giving it significantly higher marks than any other recent acceptance speech. The Democratic Party’s favorable ratings went up, and the (Republican Party’s) favorable ratings went down. Historically speaking, the convention was better than some and worse than others in the public’s mind - not a home run, but a hit nonetheless.”

Aldrich maintains that the Democrats remain in a better position this year to try to boost Obama’s popularity.

“This time, they (the Democrats) have the money and aren’t bound by the financial rules (governing elections) because they’re self-financing their campaign. They have the (means) to spend substantial amounts of money to try to capitalize on their bounce.” 


This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs