5 Takeaways From the Conventions

Electorate tuned out, but Democrats' convention stronger than Republicans in many areas

   

investorpoliticsletters2 5 Takeaways From the ConventionsAs delegates and the media hordes leave Charlotte and workers sweep up confetti from the Time Warner Cable Arena, here are five things we’ve learned from the RNC in Tampa and the DNC.

The electorate is tuning out

TV ratings are down sharply from 2008 — Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney got 30 million viewers for his acceptance speech last Thursday, a 23% decline from John McCain’s 39 million in 2008. Vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan got just 22 million, a 41% drop from when the VP nominee — you may have heard of her, her name was Sarah Palin — got 37 million. Ratings for the DNC were down, too.

But the Democrats won the rating and social media wars

Democrats did better on the first two nights — 26 million the first night, when Michelle Obama spoke, and 25 million for former President Bill Clinton’s barn burner of a speech. And that was without NBC, which carried the NFL’s opening game between the New York Giants and the Dallas Cowboys, which poached 20 million viewers from Bubba.

But tweets about the DNC outnumbered those about the RNC by more than two to one, and President Obama’s acceptance speech out-tweeted Romney’s by nearly four to one. Twitter users, however, got more and more negative about Romney and the president after their speeches, which shows their messages aren’t getting through.

Democrats had the better prime-time speeches

Michelle Obama was the best of all the speakers in prime time. She was eloquent, likeable and classy, never mentioning Mitt Romney by name while giving a moving testimony to her husband. Marco Rubio was second best in an electrifying introduction to the national stage followed by former president Bill Clinton’s sharp critique of Romney-Ryan and his detailed defense of the Obama presidency. Then came Julian Castro, the Democrats’ answer to Rubio, and finally Ann Romney, who succeeded in humanizing Mitt as a great family man and a generous individual.

Democrats closed the intensity gap

The delegates in Charlotte were far more enthusiastic about the president than the GOP delegates in Tampa were about Mitt Romney. The Republicans had intensity all right — an intense hatred of Barack Obama. Even handpicked speakers couldn’t bring themselves to mention their presidential candidate’s name too much. In Charlotte, though, Democrats were falling all over themselves to praise President Obama as if he were the reincarnation of FDR and JFK. The fall campaign will be a test of which is a stronger motivator, love or hate.

But Republicans have a much stronger bench

If Romney loses, Republicans shouldn’t despair: they have a group of talented up and comers who will do well in the future. Besides the Big Three of Ryan, Rubio, and Christie, who all might be ready by 2016, others who impressed were Gov. Nikki Haley, Gov. Susana Martinez, Gov. Scott Walker, and Sen. Kelly Ayotte. And then, of course, there were Jeb Bush, Mike Huckabee, and Condoleezza Rice waiting in the wings, if any of them decide to run.

By contrast, the Democrats’ lady in waiting, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, was in China and East Timor on a diplomatic mission, as far as you can get from Charlotte. And some of the speakers at the DNC — Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren, former Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, and former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland — were pretty strident.

If Hillary decides not to run in 2016, when she’ll be 68, the Democrats’ cupboard is pretty bare.

Howard R. Gold is a columnist for MarketWatch and editor at large for MoneyShow.com. Follow him on Twitter @howardrgold and catch his coverage of the 2012 presidential campaign at www.independentagenda.com.

The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.

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