Barack Obama gave it his best shot Thursday night and it just might give
him a boost for the final two months of his race for re-election as
president. Essentially, Mr. Obama tried to make the case that while
things have not gone as well as everyone had hoped when he was first
elected four years ago, his path is the best way forward.
Mr. Obama brought his usual rhetorical flair to the Democratic Party’s
convention here in Charlotte, North Carolina and the delegates were
eager to react to every word. But he did have a tough act to follow
given the speech First lady Michelle Obama delivered on the opening
night followed another from former President Bill Clinton on Wednesday.
The president focused his nomination acceptance speech on the future,
telling voters they have a choice in this election like none other over
the past 25 years. By making that choice about the future, Mr. Obama
hopes enough voters will overlook his less than stellar record on the
economy and give him another four years.
The mood in the street following his speech was electric. Thousands of
Obama delegates and supporters flooded downtown Charlotte, some singing
and chanting. Clearly for those attending the convention the energy is
back. Maybe not like four years ago, but these past several days at the
convention might have been enough to re-energize Democratic spirits.
In the hours leading up to the speech, scores of delegates headed for
the arena in a giddy mood. And that enthusiasm was on display during the
president’s speech, with delegates whooping, hollering and generally
having a grand old time while the president made his case.
Follow the Bouncing Polls
The question now is what kind of post-convention bounce the president
will get heading into the final two months of the campaign. I talked
with noted Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg, who says the Obama speech
came at a critical moment in the campaign, a real opportunity for
Democrats to put some daylight between themselves and the Republican
ticket led by Mitt Romney.
Greenberg says Romney-Ryan ticket got a minimal bounce out of the
Republican convention in Tampa, Florida the week before, largely because
of the addition of Paul Ryan as the vice presidential candidate. He says
a strong public reaction to Mr. Obama’s speech coupled with a smooth and
energizing Democratic convention could propel the president into a three
to four point lead over Mr. Romney in the public opinion polls heading
into the final eight weeks of the campaign.
That may not sound like much, but a lot of strategists say that in a
close race it could be determinative, meaning this convention
potentially was a watershed moment for Mr. Obama and his Democratic
But it’s still early and lots of things can still happen, like the
Obama-Romney debates. The first one is October 3rd in Denver.
Democratic Highlights: Mrs. O and Daddy-O
Without question, the top three Democratic stars were — not necessarily
in order — First lady Michelle Obama (Mrs. O), former President Bill
Clinton (Daddy-O) and, of course, President Obama himself (The Big O?).
We should probably also throw in San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, who
gave the keynote address on the opening night.
Looking back to the Republican convention, Ann Romney had a solid speech
that filled in some of the blanks about her husband, Mitt. But two days
after speech, delegates were still buzzing about the job Michelle Obama
did on behalf of her husband Tuesday night.
There is a cool, sometimes aloof quality to President Obama that
sometimes tempers his ability to connect with voters. But Mrs. Obama
provided the antidote for that in spades when she spoke to the
convention. Lots of delegates, especially women, had a very emotional
The Democrats seemed to be very effective in trying to maximize the
advantage they have with certain key voting groups: women, who actually
make up a majority of voters, Hispanics and African-Americans. Given the
challenges this year in trying to replicate the record turnout among
young and first-time voters in 2008, the Democrats are counting on their
convention to re-energize the critical voting blocs where the president
has a big edge over Mr. Romney and make sure they get out and vote in
Whose Convention Was Better Anyway?
Somewhat unexpectedly, I found more energy at the Democratic conclave in
Charlotte than I did in Tampa with the Republicans.
Look, the Republicans have been ginned up for two years about beating
President Obama. All the Tea Party conservatism and the takeover of the
House of Representatives were just lead-ups for the expected main event
— the defeat of President Obama in 2012.
So yeah, Republicans were psyched in Tampa to come together under a
banner that says “Beat Obama,” instead of “We Love Mitt.” You got the
feeling in Tampa that most of the Republicans felt they did what they
had to do — rallied around Mr. Romney more with their heads than their
hearts, and got ready for the final two months of the campaign.
in Charlotte, the Democrats seemed loaded for bear. It’s like all that
Democratic energy has been out there untapped and is now ready to come
To be sure, the Democrats still have their challenges. Have they won
over enough swing voters? Will the kids really turn out in droves again
for the president? Can they match the level of excitement and commitment
among Democratic loyalists, especially Hispanics and younger, single
But after their convention, it’s easier to believe the Democrats just
might be able to rally a better turnout than some of the experts
predicted. It’s not a lock, and a lot can happen between now and
November 6th, but most of the Democrats I talked to feel a lot more
confident about the president’s chances after Charlotte than before.