Commentary Magazine


Does the Convention Bounce Matter?

Jonathan argued yesterday that Republicans shouldn’t expect much of a post-convention bounce for Romney, since public interest in the conventions (which have become carefully-orchestrated stage shows) seems to have waned in recent years, and the hurricane and Democratic diversionary tactics could distract from the speeches. Two other factors that seem to point against a big bounce: Romney chose his running mate earlier than usual, which means he may not get the additional VP bump. And reports indicate that there are fewer undecided voters out there than in previous years.

But outside of the Beltway expectations game, does the size of the bounce really matter? According to Michael Barone, it depends:

Is there a correlation between the size of the bounce and the vote in November? Certainly there was for Clinton in 1992, and the no-bounce Democrats — McGovern and Kerry — both lost. But in five of the 12 races since 1964, the loser had the larger bounce.

Will Romney get a bounce? By this time next week, we’ll see, but more important is whether he can hold on to most of it until Nov. 6.

In nearly half the races since 1964, the larger bounce was on the losing side — which doesn’t give much confidence for its predictive power. But as Jonathan wrote yesterday, even a minor boost in the polls could mean a lot for Romney, since the race is in a dead-heat and there’s not much ground left for either candidate to gain.

The question is whether Romney will be able to hold onto any post-convention gains until the election. That may be more difficult this year, since the timing of the Democratic convention (which starts almost immediately after the GOP’s) seems to be designed to cut any bounce short.