August 22nd, 2008
03:45 PM ET
6 years ago

McCain camp plays convention expectations game

(CNN) – Democrats may be looking for a big bounce for Barack Obama’s White House bid from next week’s presidential nominating convention in Denver – but in the grand campaign tradition, nobody seems to have higher public expectations for the gathering’s success than Republican rival John McCain's campaign.

His campaign sent a memo to reporters Friday predicting a massive boost for Barack Obama’s poll numbers coming out of the convention. "We believe Obama will see a significant bump, and believe it is reasonable to expect nearly a 15-point bounce out of a convention in this political environment," said McCain Strategy Director Sarah Simmons.

A 15-point bounce would be the second-highest in the history of modern presidential conventions, trailing only former President Bill Clinton’s 16-point bump in 1992.

The convention effect may be hard to read this cycle - John McCain will steal the spotlight hours after Obama is slated to accept the nomination with a massive Ohio rally where he is expected to name his running mate. And the Republican convention kicks off just two days later.

In their response to the McCain memo, the Obama camp avoided making any predictions of their own. “Presidential races are close, and we expect this one to be no different. But they should figure out how to spin the fact that John McCain owns a dozen houses and thinks the fundamentals of our economy are strong before trying to spin our convention.”

(Full McCain campaign memo after the jump.)

TO: Interested Parties
FROM: Sarah Simmons, Director of Strategy
RE: Obama's Convention Bounce
DATE: August 22, 2008

Monday marks the beginning of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. A combination of factors makes this particular convention historic on many levels. Democrats have just completed an incredibly compelling primary cycle that has both energized and divided the Democratic Party. Because of the unique nature of the Democratic primary, we believe Obama will receive a significant bump from his convention.

This cycle mirrors Bill Clinton's Democratic convention in 1992: A historic 16-point bump. Barack Obama is more similarly situated to Bill Clinton in 1992 than any other candidate in recent history. Bill Clinton was a new candidate on the national scene; he was running in a "change" oriented election cycle and the economy was voters' top issue - a dynamic he was able to capitalize on. He received a 16-point bump coming out of his convention. Obama is also a "new" candidate in a change-oriented environment. And, like Bill Clinton, he will spend the convention presenting himself as the agent of change who will fix the economy.

Obama will ride his VP bump. In addition to Obama taking advantage of the political environment, he will announce his Vice Presidential candidate late this week. This announcement typically gives a candidate a 5-point temporary bump that dissipates. However, Obama's timing allows him to maximize his Vice Presidential bump and sustain press attention for the course of the week. He will ride the wave of an announcement from late this week (announcement expected by Saturday) through his speech on Thursday. This means that whatever bump he gains from the announcement has the potential to be lasting.

Obama will correct his underperformance with Hillary Clinton's primary voters and emerge with a much more cohesive base. This convention gives Obama a platform to unite his base. There continues to be a divide in the Democratic base: Between 10-15% of Democrats are voting for McCain or sitting on the fence. In target states, that number is even higher, between 15-20% in many surveys. The Obama campaign knows that winning or losing in states like Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania depends on Obama's ability to bring these voters home. If his convention successfully showcases Hillary Clinton and heals the wounds from the primary, he will move large groups of voters in those key places.

Obama's stadium address on Thursday - the 45th anniversary of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "I Have A Dream" speech - will result in effusive and overwhelming press coverage. On Thursday, Obama will give a great speech, as has been his trademark. The press will sing his praises and remark on his historic address and Obama's place in history. For example, The Associated Press today published an article comparing the historic nature of the addresses – a week before Obama's speech. This coverage will be impenetrable and will undoubtedly impact the polls.

We believe Obama will see a significant bump, and believe it is reasonable to expect nearly a 15-point bounce out of a convention in this political environment.


Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (81 Responses)
  1. RB from NH

    It'll be 20 by election day

    August 22, 2008 05:08 pm at 5:08 pm |
  2. Vegas

    Hey John...

    Just don't send your VP selection out via text....

    That idea backfired on Obama... he looks like a complete tool today.

    LMAO

    Still Waiting.... waiting.... uhhhhh.... mmmmm.... please beep... please beep.... HA

    August 22, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  3. James

    MCAIN SAYS "NOUN, VERB, POW"

    August 22, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  4. Rob

    Obama is sooo aggrevating. cant wait to see him falling....

    Rob

    Semper Fi

    August 22, 2008 05:12 pm at 5:12 pm |
  5. Phil in KC

    15 points? Oh please. Besides who lets them have a say in what the bounce should be? He'll get a bounce, just as McCain will. And I do expect his bounce to be a little bit higher than McCain's. But I think that's about all one could reasonably expect. This just shows how desperate they're getting.

    August 22, 2008 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  6. Madison, WI

    IF I HEAR ONE MORE PERSON CRYING ABOUT NO HILARILY EQUALS THE END OF US ALL; I'M GOING TO PUKE!

    SECONDLY, YOU REPUBLICANS WHO THINK OBAMA IS TAKING THIS AS A GAME. YOUR RIGHT. THIS IS A GAME; THE GAME OF LIFE. AND ALL OF OURS DEPEND ON OBAMA WINNING THE NOMINATION.

    OLD NEWS; BUT YOU REALIZE WHEN ASKED JOHN MCCAIN DIDN'T KNOW HOW MANY HOUSES HE CURRENTLY OWNS. ALL YOU POOR, RELIGIOUS REPUBLICANS SHOULD THINK ABOUT WHETHER HE REALLY CARES ABOUT YOUR WELL BEING. I'M SURE HE CARES MORE ABOUT HIS 500 DOLLAR SHOES.

    August 22, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  7. 08 Obama excitement

    Obama's biggest boost will come after he has crushed McAncient in the debates. The old man thinks he can 'win' another country's civil war with our troops. Good luck arguing that one Johnnie. Obama towers above McSame in both stature and intellect, and it will show in the debates.

    August 22, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  8. Latinos for Obama

    What comes to mind when seeing Panamanian McCain?

    POST TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (unresolved).

    People this fraud, McCain, is dangerous, very dangerous for America!

    August 22, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  9. Disgusted republican

    Rob–Nice grammer and spelling! Typical McCain voter I take it?

    August 22, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  10. Biffington, Biff

    McCain plays Convention Expectation Game

    (sigh)....

    games..... always games, spin, and illusion....

    Houdini would be proud.

    August 22, 2008 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  11. NW Dem

    I think people would be happy that Senator McCain has not been so attuned to his personal finances that he has neglected his public duties. It seems to me Senator Obama has been paying a bit to much attention to his with the sweat heart deal he got from Rezco!

    August 22, 2008 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  12. Mark R. Milwaukee WI

    Please make it Hillary- she leads McCain 49-43 head to head. Put the past in the past- do what's best to win the whitehouse.

    August 22, 2008 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  13. James

    you will be waiting for at least 9 years Rob. Would hate to be you. thats a long time to hold your breath!

    August 22, 2008 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  14. Mike in Houston

    Uh who cares what McCain does during the convention, no one will be paying attention as usual anyway. Go back to German Village, slam a few beers with you 2 reporters following you and your small contingent of supporters and discuss how long you concession speech will be on November 5th.

    August 22, 2008 05:20 pm at 5:20 pm |
  15. Karen Raleigh

    McCain doesnt stand a hope in hell no matter what they do.

    August 22, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  16. Kim

    Maybe McCain does not know how many homes he has because he is busy doing his job. How about obambi, he is sucha a childish moron, beep beep the text is coming(not) he is a joke, he may see a 20% drop. Who gives a hoot about how many homes the man owns, does that have anything do with the elections? That's why Mccain fired him up about his home he should have left it alone.

    August 22, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  17. Phoenician, AZ

    What a bunch of BS!! Unbelieveble!! Just who are these McCain camp IDIOTS?
    Well, I PREDICT that McShame will be ELECTED like that moron BUSH has been twice. And that McShame will win by at 10 percent margin. And that Republicans will get 2/3 in the senate :))))

    August 22, 2008 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  18. Capt. Smash, Salt Lake City, Utah

    McCain should get a boost from the Real Estate Voters

    August 22, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  19. Venus

    They should be saying how many points McSame will get1

    Who are they to say how many Obama will get?

    And yeah... they need to worry about McSame and his crowd of 5,000 after Obama's 100,000 plus!

    McSame will steal the spot light? Labor Day weekend?

    August 22, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  20. ran

    Fun Fun Fun it is a coming again. People our country will soon belong to us again. Vote only Democrats and Obama. Yes we can.

    August 22, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  21. Mark R. Milwaukee WI

    Unite the democratic party and we can't be beat! She won 18 million votes- Please pick Hillary

    August 22, 2008 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  22. karen-phoenix

    Go Obama!!! I'm a "recovering republican" and there are a LOT of us out their!!!

    August 22, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  23. Californian for Obama!

    Rob,

    It makes e smile to know that you and the ight wing are agrevated by Obama, THATS THE IDEA BUDDY!!!

    The truth hurts huh? AHA!!

    Obama 08!

    August 22, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  24. Nick

    NW Dem- Some people on these blogs know when you regergitate Rush

    August 22, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  25. D&D

    Why don't we just wait and see...after all, what must happen will happen, won't it?

    August 22, 2008 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
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