Political Animal


September 06, 2012 9:43 AM The Year When Polls Don’t Bounce

By Ed Kilgore

Maybe he was just keeping expectations under control after the euphoria over Michelle Obama’s and Bill Clinton’s featured Convention speeches. Maybe he’s hedging bets in case the President’s acceptance speech gets panned. In any event, Obama’s guy David Plouffe is warning that the Convention may have little or not effect on the standing of the two candidates in the polls:

Speaking on ABC’s “Good Morning America” on Thursday, the day President Obama is set to deliver his campaign speech and a day after former President Bill Clinton delivered his convention speech, Plouffe said he expected the race to remain tight up until election day.
“This is a very tight race,” Plouffe said. “We’ve always believed that there’s very little elasticity in the 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 in some battleground states. It’s going to be very, very close all the way out.”

“Very little elasticity” is another way of saying there are remarkably few undecided voters, and a lot of them aren’t much paying attention to the campaign yet. Maybe they watched Clinton last night; maybe they tuned out promptly at 11:00; maybe they skipped it all and watched football or spent their Wednesday night doing something else entirely. It’s hard to say. But the one thing that should always come out of a national convention is activist enthusiasm, and nothing could rain on that parade more than excited anticipation of a “bounce” that never happens.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • SadOldVet on September 06, 2012 9:54 AM:

    Unfortunately, this is probably going to be a close election and again a small handful of 'swing states' are going to be key. Especially, where the repuknican efforts have been having some success in disenfranchising normally democratic voters.

    I am not a fan of Plouffe, but he and others need to continue letting everyone know that any ideas of a landslide are as dangerous as quicksand. The democratic voter base needs to continue to know that their participation is needed.

  • c u n d gulag on September 06, 2012 9:54 AM:

    Unlike after the RNC, I DO expect a moderate bump - if not more.

    If people tuned in, "undecided," or "unsure," to to both conventions to see 'what's what,' in American politics, the Democrat's 'who's who' made the Republican's Convention look a political version of "Waiting for Guffman" - rank Randian amateur actors, waiting for a real producer.

    Any two minutes of Castro, Michelle, or Warren, or Bill, was better than the entire RNC.

    And now, after Michelle and Clinton got everyone more than warmed-up, it's time for Barack Obama to make the final sell on the deal.

    And that man ain't a bad closer himself!

  • jjm on September 06, 2012 9:57 AM:

    I predict they will bounce for Obama. Too much high quality in the Democratic convention, brilliant speakers, smiling faces, real enthusiasm.

  • gelfling545 on September 06, 2012 10:28 AM:

    Maybe no bounce (though I think there will be some) but certainly energized the Democrats of my acquaintance who were feeling kind of meh prior to the convention.

  • Bo on September 06, 2012 10:37 AM:

    I agree with Plouffe's strategy here. Manage expectations down; be happy when you clear a low bar. However, it is also important not to peak too early -- it could enrage the birthers, teabaggers, Koch brothers, Roves and Swift-boaters to fight even dirtier than they are already.
    One thing is for sure -- early reports of Friday's likely jobs numbers won't give the GOP a "wet blanket" to throw over the results of the Democrats' convention.
    All in all, I agree with those who predict a substantial bump coming out of this week. And it will only increase over the course of the coming debates. Neither Romney nor Ryan have the capacity to prevail in a debate setting for anyone other than those who are already their rabid, dead-ender supporters.

  • T2 on September 06, 2012 10:45 AM:

    the truth is simple - due to four years of partisan warfare the like of which is unprecedented, the GOP/TeaParty Conservatives have succeeded in dividing his country profoundly. Using race in no small part (just check the white's only GOP convention vs. the Rainbow Dem convention). The result is that the hard lines are drawn. Many months ago I opined that if the election was held then, the results would be the same as November. I still think that. I see close to dead even- with the Electoral College being the decider.

  • Diane Rodriguez on September 06, 2012 10:54 AM:

    On night one, I saw a graphic on MSNBC. Although Obama has a huge lead with Hispanic voters (except Cubans) only 49% of eligible Hispanic voters were planning to vote. I think increasing the percentage of actual voters should be a key focus of the Presidential campaign as well as down ticket races.

    The convention bump may not be a significant percentage. However,the convention speakers set the tone for the remainder of the campaign. If Obama uses these 1st tier surrogates on the trail, it will be a more lasting effect than a transitory convention bump.

  • TK421 on September 06, 2012 11:12 AM:

    “Very little elasticity” is another way of saying there are remarkably few undecided voters

    Or it's another way of saying there's virtually no difference between the candidates. One wants to force people to buy private insurance, protect the rich, and expand America's wars overseas, and the other has four children.

  • schtick on September 06, 2012 11:12 AM:

    If anyone noticed in the 2000 and 2004 election, teapubs knew exactly which states they needed and by how much. And don't ya know, those are the states where we had voting problems. Enough so to have Bush appointed in 2000 and enough in 2004 for Kerry to give up the fight.
    They KNOW where they need the votes and it is in these states they are pushing for voter ID and voting changes. Obama will not win big because the fix is in. It will be close. Too close. The teapubs have cheated for years and gotten away with it. This year will be no different and they've even gotten bolder about it.

  • Kevin (not the famous one) on September 06, 2012 11:37 AM:

    I'm sure a lot of voters feel they have been bounced one time to many. While we know parties can't resist the perpetual lying, those that are aware know who do it for short term survival. Personally, I'd give high marks to any party who would pick any social problem and solve it for good. We spend to much effort on electioneering and defer to kicking cans down the road.

    Crapcha is asking me to decode smudges

  • scott_m on September 06, 2012 1:47 PM:

    TK421, please let's not start with "not a dime's worth of difference" business. That kind of talk about 12 years ago landed us with President Bush rather than President Gore. In hindsight, there was more than a dime's worth of difference between those two, wouldn't you say?