September 6, 2008

Interim Progress Report on Convention Bounces

Hatched by Dafydd

Today is the first day that Gallup and Rasmussen daily tracking polling includes some respondents (one third of them) who saw (or could have seen) John S. McCain's acceptance speech on Thursday. These polls are each three-day rolling averages; thus today's poll release includes polling from Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; but the Thursday polling ended before McCain's speech, so only the Friday polling reflects any bump that might give him.

The last polling release where all polls were conducted before the Democratic convention was Monday, August 25th; the first polling release where all polls will have been conducted after the Republican convention ended will be Monday, September 8th... so consider this a "progress report" of sorts.

For the Gallup numbers, go the linked page and hover your pointer over the trend lines to see the results for each day. The Rasmussen numbers are found here.

Note: The poll "Rasmussen Daily Tracking (with leaners)" means that those respondents who say they can't decide are pushed to say which way they lean. Only Rasmussen did this (reporting both sets of numbers); Gallup did not. Thus, in the fourth table, we average the most equivalent two data sets, Gallup and the Rasmussen Daily Tracking (without leaners). Nevertheless, Gallup polls registered voters, while Rasmussen polls likely voters; this is a difference that cannot be resolved given the companies' respective releases.

We also have final numbers on how many viewers tuned in to watch each convention. Let's jump right in....

Tracking poll numbers and averages

Gallup Daily Tracking
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 45 45 Tie
September 6th 47 45 Obama +2


Rasmussen Daily Tracking (without leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 46 42 Obama +4
September 6th 46 45 Obama +1


Rasmussen Daily Tracking (with leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 48 45 Obama +3
September 6th 49 46 Obama +3


Average of Gallup and Rasmussen (without leaners)
Poll release date Obama McCain Advantage
August 25th 45.5 43.5 Obama +2.0
September 6th 46.5 45.0 Obama +1.5

To summarize:

  1. Before the Democratic convention began, a rolling 3-day average from Gallup found Barack H. Obama tied with John S. McCain; the same poll released today -- with two-thirds of respondents not having had a chance to see McCain's acceptance speech and one-third not having had a chance to see Sarah Palin's speech -- has Obama ahead of McCain by 2 points.
  2. The equivalent polling numbers for the Rasmussen Daily Tracking poll (not counting leaners) found Obama going from an advantage of 4 over McCain to an advantage of 1.
  3. The average of these two polls shows Obama dropping from an advantage of 2.0 before the Democratic convention to 1.5 at this point. He has already lost ground and is likely to lose more, as more respondents will have had a chance to have seen McCain's speech.

We will, of course, post the final results on Monday.

Nielsen ratings of both conventions

Nielsen has released the ratings for the two conventions; the ratings are the total number of televisions tuned to each show, calculated from the "Nielsen boxes" on some large number of viewer's TVs that accurately measure whether the TV is turned on, and if so, to what show it's tuned. (It cannot measure whether the viewer is actually paying attention or even watching. Surprise, surprise.)

Note: The story linked above also mentions PBS numbers, which are highly suspect: They are not tracked by a Nielsen box; instead, PBS reports "a more imprecise estimate based on samples in a few big cities." Alas, "big cities" will lean more towards Obama, while PBS can be seen in small cities, too. So I omit those numbers and run only with the main networks that are tracked by Nielsen.

Here are the Nielsen ratings; the operative number is "Persons 2+" for each day... that is, the total number of persons over the age of 2 who watched (I'm not sure how they calculate that, but it's the same formula for each party's convention):

Nielsen ratings for each convention
Convention Nominee speech VP speech Daily average
Democratic 38.4 million 24.0 million 30.2 million
Republican 38.9 million 37.2 million 34.5 million
Advantage McCain + 500,000 Palin + 13.2 million GOP + 4.3 million

(For the "daily average" figure, found on page 2 of the PDF, the operative number is persons 2+ in the "Live + Same Day" column, meaning those who either watched live, or who watched a recording of the events on the same day (as I did).

So as spectacular as were the ratings for Barack Obama's acceptance speech, John McCain's acceptance actually beat the celebrity Democrat... and for that matter, even Sarah Palin came very close. Combining the presidential and vice presidential acceptance speeches, the Republicans outdrew the Democrats by 13.7 million viewers.

How could that be? How could John "McAncient" beat "Britney" Obama? I suspect voters are starting to wake up to the realization that fame (or infamy) is not the most important issue: They have evidently begun seriously to consider judgment, accomplishment, managerial skills, courage, and character instead.

Barack Obama may win the "George" trophy -- the political equivalent of the Oscar, the Grammy, the Hugo, or the Edgar; but that's not why we're holding an election a scant 59 days from today.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, September 6, 2008, at the time of 7:08 PM

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The following hissed in response by: MikeR

No one else commented here, Dafydd, so I guess there's lots of room...

Now that the next set of polls shows McCain/Palin up by several points at least, it seems to me that McCain should take the following steps:
1) Switch to supporting ANWR drilling as soon as possible. Palin provides him with cover for the change, and, otherwise, splitting the issue is a big drag on the campaign.
2) Focus on the two issues on which there is virtual unanimity - (a) energy, and (b) ethics reform and earmarks. [He can give lip service to other things like terrorism, and continue to use it to knock Obama's and Biden's judgment, but since there is currently nothing that needs doing that anyone is really opposed to (in Iraq), and nothing else that anyone is really in favor of doing (in Pakistan or Iran), one can't base much of an issue on it at the moment. Nor is there anything like a powerful consensus.] I'd hope that Palin is expert enough to be very convincing on the energy issue. She should talk like an expert, providing precise estimates on how much energy is available and how soon, if we will drill for it as best we can, and pursue every other option too.
3) Declare war on the Republican Party. McCain should say that he expects every Republican in good standing to back him on (a) energy, aggressively pursuing every possible avenue [which they won't have a problem doing], (b) and on passing a draconian set of restrictions on earmarks and lobbying in Congress [which lots of Republican congressmen would indeed have a problem with]. He and Palin should say publicly and repeatedly that any Republican who opposes them on this is voting for corruption, and they will no longer consider them to be in good standing, or support their candidacies in any way. They want such people out of the party.
As I said, lots of congressmen won't like this, but everyone else will, and I don't know if the congressmen could stand up to such a direct attack. Hopefully they would all go along rather than be publicly branded corrupt.
4) Once they have Republican unanimity on these issues, they should announce that they want powerful bills passed now, before the election. They should publicly and repeatedly give the Democrats the choice of visibly choosing less energy and/or more corruption - or going along and passing very powerful bills. There'd be little reason to compromise on the bills that get passed, and little reason to accept anything except abject cooperation from the Democratic party. They would continue to publicly denounce anyone who tries to derail the process. These will be extremely popular bills.
5) We would get one of two results. Either conservatives would score the enormous success of entirely changing how these two issues are handled in America - or the Democratic party might suddenly be in danger of getting swept out of office. As well as being branded the party of corruption.
In either scenario, McCain/Palin win their own election virtually as an afterthought, with Obama/Biden essentially reduced to irrelevancy.

If McCain and Palin will strike while the iron is hot, they can entirely take control of this election.

The above hissed in response by: MikeR [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 7, 2008 8:42 PM

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