CHARLOTTE, N.C.—While former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney got no bounce out of his convention last week, I heard this week an interesting theory on why President Barack Obama might well get a boost from his convention here. If the three-day Democratic show can bring some disaffected members of the Obama coalition—people whose enthusiasm has faded but can still be inspired to come home—it could boost Obama's poll numbers.
"There are more groups on the Democratic side who are not yet at their numbers they were at in 2008" and so could be moved into Obama's column by the convention, said Stan Greenberg at a panel of former senior presidential campaign strategists convened Thursday morning (well before Obama spoke) by National Journal and The Atlantic. "There are still groups that are receptive to the president that can move and I think this convention is geared to that." Greenberg specified unmarried women. Microtargeting expert Laura Quinn said that "the folks who are not as enthused as they've been are younger voters … if the president's speech talks about the future" that piece could fall into place. Added pollster Peter Hart: "Just based on the first two nights, Obama goes from the position of being on the defensive to I think a sense of being on the offensive."
It's an interesting argument and makes some sense, though I remain skeptical about whether this race is going to move very much in either direction between now and Election Day.
Not surprisingly, Team Obama has been downplaying a convention bounce. "Listen, this is a very tight race," White House adviser David Plouffe told George Stephanopoulos Thursday . "We've always believed that there's very little elasticity in this election. I don't think you should expect a big bounce. I think this is a race where we've got a small but important lead into battleground states." Obama advisers reportedly point out how late in the year the convention is taking place to downplay a potential bounce. We'll see what happens.