A new Pew Research Center poll shows a surprisingly high level of interest in viewership of the Democratic National Convention, compared with prior years. "The upcoming Democratic National Convention is generating much more public interest than did the party's convention four years ago," according to Pew. "Fully 59 percent of Americans say they are interested in following what happens at the Democratic convention, up from 36 percent in 2004. Nearly a third (31 percent) say they are very interested, while 28 percent say they are fairly interested in developments from Denver next week."
A large chunk of this interest can be attributed to Sen. Hillary Clinton's Tuesday night speech.
More than half of Democrats—56 percent—who supported Clinton in the primaries told Pew researchers they are very interested in hearing her speak.
Does this mean they could be looking for cues from Clinton about whether they should vote for Sen. Barack Obama in November? Obama faces serious obstacles as he tries to woo this key voting block. Yesterday's NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed 21 percent of them plan to vote for Sen. John McCain and 27 percent are undecided about whom to support, even though they are Democrats and the Democratic nominee is Obama.
I appeared last night on MSNBC's Hardball with Chris Matthews, and he astutely pointed out that while campaigning in Florida yesterday for Obama, Clinton referred to him as her "opponent." (You can see the segment—"The Hillary Factor"—here.)
Was this a signal to her supporters that she's stumping for him because she has to, not because she wants to? Clinton has been an incredibly good soldier in her efforts for Obama since she conceded in June. But are her supporters heeding her call for them to transfer loyalties? Tuesday night's speech will tell us more.