By Teresa Welsh |
Given the goal of the 2012 Democratic National Convention was to rip Mitt Romney and the Republican Party, duck economic reality, and energize and solidify the base, the gathering in Charlotte was a success for President Barack Obama.
But if the president dreamt of moving beyond the base and putting distance between himself and Romney, or even simply laying out a vision for the future, he fell short.
The best speech of the convention was former President Bill Clinton's. The second-best was Michelle Obama's. The rest of the speakers—including the president—droned on to mixed-or-worse reviews, making little progress with Middle America.
This did not seem to be an accident. President Obama, it seems, has decided to roll the dice on a base-on-base election. He doesn't want to create voters, as he did in 2008. He won't get much of a bump, according to Reuters, but he neither expected one nor held out much hope for one. He doesn't want to steal from Romney's base with anything that could be called a broad-based appeal. He merely wants to hold on to what he has and hope it adds up to 50 + 1.
Nate Silver, the New York Times data king, thinks it could work. He says 35 percent of voters are Democrats and 30 percent Republicans and that all the president has to do to prevail is convince his base to show up. Thus, he has President Obama's chances of retaining his office at 77 percent and projects he will receive 313 electoral votes.
When the roar of the year's second bounce-less convention dies down, the election will move to its next stage—one that will feature lots of ugly rhetoric and, come October, the debates. Fact-checkers have played a big role in this election; both candidates are willing to stretch or distort to make a point. But the debates offer no such hiding places. The candidates will stand side-by-side on a stage, and Romney, certainly the underdog right now, has demonstrated significant aptitude in this area.
Romney also could turn the tables by working to make inroads with Hispanics. More than 10.2 million—a record by far—turned out to vote in the 2008 election. President Obama continues to lead 2: to 1 among these voters, but nowhere near that many are expected to vote this year. Organizers say he hasn't followed through on his promises on immigration—and although they see little to like in Romney, they are no longer enthused about the president.
So, was Charlotte a success? If all the niche voters to whom the convention appealed to turn out, probably so. But if not, we could well be discussing a President Romney in the near future.
About Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Zerlina Maxwell Democratic Strategist and Writer
Jamie Chandler Political Scientist at Hunter College