Heading To Tampa
Gilbert N. Kahn is a professor of Political Science at Kean University.
As the GOP faithful head to Tampa for the Republican National Convention beginning on Monday, this gathering– as well as the Democratic one the following week in Charlotte–really will be more than ever events for the party loyalists; a chance to gin up their troops for the last two months of the campaign. With the decline of live network coverage and the fact that the public today has so many alternative media choices, attention to the subtleties and nuances at these conventions are likely to be largely the province of the political junkies. The only attention grabber might be the Romney acceptance speech and how the media spins it out for the public. The only other factor will be the post-convention bounce in the polls, first for Romney and then for Obama.
With respect to polls as has been suggested here for months, most people historically decide for whom to vote by Labor Day. While there are more independents today than ever before, that does not negate the above contention. In addition, given the closeness to date in most of the polls, baring major mistakes, international crises, or a debate flop, three weeks after both conventions there is every reason to assume that the polls will still reflect the same tight race as today.
For President Obama he needs a smooth ride; no disastrous, unexpected economic news or glaring national security incident gone terribly wrong. Steadiness and boring on the news front will be excellent for him. Romney will need to show some excitement and fire to turn around the remaining undecided, but most of all he cannot afford to be put into a situation where he needs to explain himself out of mistakes, mis-speaks, or stupidity. He also needs to expose himself more to public scrutiny so that he can win over the waffling voters. To date, this approach has been totally absent from his campaign. He could be in trouble if he cannot humanize himself more to the undecided.
Approaching Tampa, the GOP is not worried about God, Death, and Taxes, but the only thing that can mess up their party–Hurricane Isaac.