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.
    London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunitiesi
    X
    VOA News
    July 25, 2016 5:09 PM
    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
    Video

    Video Recycling Lifeline for Lebanon’s Last Glassblowers

    In a small Lebanese coastal town, one family is preserving a craft that stretches back millennia. The art of glass blowing was developed by Phoenicians in the region, and the Khalifehs say they are the only ones keeping the skill alive in Lebanon. But despite teaming up with an eco-entrepreneur and receiving an unexpected boost from the country’s recent trash crisis the future remains uncertain. John Owens reports from Sarafand.
    Video

    Video Migrants Continue to Risk Lives Crossing US Border from Mexico

    In his speech Thursday before the Republican National Convention, the party’s presidential candidate, Donald Trump, reiterated his proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border if elected. Polls show a large percentage of Americans support better control of the nation's southwestern border, but as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from the border town of Nogales in the Mexican state of Sonora, the situation faced by people trying to cross the border is already daunting.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Calm the Waters: US Doubles Down Diplomatic Efforts in ASEAN Meetings

    The United States is redoubling diplomatic efforts and looking to upcoming regional meetings to calm the waters after an international tribunal invalidated the legal basis of Beijing's extensive claims in the South China Sea. VOA State Department correspondent Nike Ching has the story.
    Video

    Video Four Brother Goats Arrive in Brooklyn on a Mission

    While it's unusual to see farm animals in cities, it's become familiar for residents of Brooklyn, New York, to see a little herd of goats. Unlike gas-powered mowing equipment, goats remove invasive weeds quietly and without adding more pollution to the air. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this is a pilot program and if it proves to be successful, the goat gardener program will be extended to other areas of New York. Faith Lapidus narrates.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora