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. Nick

    The only way he was going to get a 15 point boost is if he makes a blockbuster VP pick in Hillary.

    August 22, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  2. ALLAN USA.

    Obama make joke of Presidency."Above my pay grade" Soooooo stupid. This President of USA. COme on people.Wake up America. No obama.

    August 22, 2008 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  3. hillybilly

    i'll be watching barack and wesley in denver.mccain will be talking to the air.

    August 22, 2008 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  4. PHIL-TEXAS

    POINTS POINTS WHO CARES. THE MEDIA WILL BEND IT ALL OUT OF SHAPE AS USUAL. ALL I KNOW IS LOOK AROUND IF YOU ARE A WORKING PERSON AND RECEIVE A PAY CHECK EVERY WEEK OR TWO YOU BETTER VOTE DEMOCRAT. 8 YEARS OF REPUKLICANS HAS ALMOST DONE OUR COUNTRY IN. HOW CAN THEY JUSTIFY $4 GASOLINE 20 CENT A KILOWAT ELECTRICITY. 15% INCREASE IN FOOD PRICES. 20% DROP IN THE VALUE OF YOUR AMERICAN DREAM. JUST VOTE REPUKLICAN AGAIN IF YOU WANT TO SEE US BECOME A THIRD WORLD COUNTRY.

    August 22, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  5. Vegas

    08 Obama excitement

    "Obama's biggest boost will come after he has crushed McAncient in the debates"

    ROFLMAO.... yea... he did so well with Clinton and Saddleback....

    ohhh ummmm yeaaaa welllll you know... ahhhhgggg.... ummmm.... above my paygrade!

    August 22, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  6. Farrell, Houston, Tx

    The only bounce John McCain needs is a booster seat, a bouncing ball and some pampers which should be expected at his age. Bush has spent more time at his Crawford Ranch than he has in the White House and McCain isn't president and spends more time in Sedona, Arizona, which is one of his 8 homes; that is if they haven't been foreclosed on(the best is yet to come).

    August 22, 2008 05:26 pm at 5:26 pm |
  7. Joe Kiloz

    A N N O U N C E-–A S -–S O O N ----A S---L A S T---O F--

    A M B U L A N C E S---L E A V E---D E N V E R

    August 22, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  8. James

    This is ridiculous.

    Anyone with any common sense should know that this is a hype job by the McCain campaign to make some outrageous claim as to what Obama should achieve. This all in mind with the purpose of trying to pummel him afterwards when there is a modest increase but not the 3000% increase they said he should get.

    This is just another "What's wrong with Obama. The people are on to him." ploy by the Right wing and the McCain campaign.

    They are hypocrits.

    MCAIN SAYS "NOUN, VERB, POW"

    August 22, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  9. Mark R. Milwaukee WI

    Bringing together the old with the new, forging a new path together. There's nobody else who can do that. Obama will be in charge – the Clintons will fall in line. I'm so afraid of the bitterness and strife that will tear this party apart if it's not her.

    August 22, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  10. No Way

    Dear Mark,

    How can it be Hillary, she did not put the past behind and in fact cause Barack harm by staying in the race so long. So now, after all of her damage, we're supposed to let by gones be by gones. It just won't happen.

    If the VP is Hillary, Barack will have a bigger war on his hands than Iraq. No, Hillary dug her own grave, and now she should be thankful she's even going to the party.

    August 22, 2008 05:27 pm at 5:27 pm |
  11. Upon Further Review

    Its just Carl Rove trying to get out in front of the bad news and weaken it.His tactics havent changed.Hes still the cloak and dagger man.Thanks Carl,Rome burned while Rove fiddled.

    August 22, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  12. Proud to be American

    McStupid does not a thing but copy Obama... and guess what our President do too.... they are putting a time table on the troop pull out in Iraq... look folks vote for McCain and the following will happen:

    1. WWIII
    2. Draft
    3. Reversal of Roe vs. Wade
    4. Unethical, cheater, lier, womanizer, war monger in the White House
    5. USA will become a 3rd World Country ...

    Well the Rich will get Richer....

    CNN dig into McWar thoughts on the draft.....

    August 22, 2008 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  13. Dready1rasta

    Disgusted Republican, the word is grammar.

    August 22, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  14. Rob indetroit

    John MCbush is nut's all he does is tell lies, oh one more thing,
    how can you forget how many homes you own, i think the man is ill.

    August 22, 2008 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  15. Cecil

    Hey McRichie Rich, How Many Cars Do You Own!

    August 22, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  16. Lyle

    It does not matter how much of a bounce Mr. Obama gets from Obamapalooza, as he has no chance of winning the general election. Up, down or flat, he will end up in the same place...a bouncing ball always comes to a dead stop in the end. The DNC has really done it this time, not only will they lose this election, but they will never regain the credibility they have lost by choosing Mr. Obama, the most unqualified, ill-suited presidential nominee in the history of the Democratic Party.

    August 22, 2008 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  17. Lisa

    I don't think Obama will win without Hillary, just my opinion though.

    August 22, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  18. Viet Vet

    NW Dem-Best do your homework Rezco has been a non-issue for sometime, moron.

    August 22, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  19. Perusing-through

    Strange, , , , McCain knows there will be a 15-point bounce for the Democrats at the conclusion of the Denver convention, but he don't know how many properties he has?

    August 22, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  20. Anonymous

    IS IT A SIN TO HAVE MORE THAN ONE HOUSE?????

    August 22, 2008 05:31 pm at 5:31 pm |
  21. Don

    Go count your houses McSame!!!

    August 22, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  22. Truth

    Lets get real people. Anyone who is for McCain is as dumb as he is.

    Doesnt it scare anyone that he is having all these senior moments?

    Can't tell between Shia and Sunni!

    Can't remember Czechoslovakia doesnt exist anymore!

    Mr. I'm world expert and experienced doesn't know that PAkistan and IRaq don't share a border!

    Can't remember how many properties he and his wife own?

    What's next?

    Ooops I crapped my pants. I forgot to go the bathroom and oops I started a war with the wrong country?!!

    August 22, 2008 05:32 pm at 5:32 pm |
  23. Ex-mod-GOP for Obama

    McCain playing political games. Now there's a shocker.

    August 22, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  24. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Here's an "Expectation":

    Cindy McCain will release her tax statements.

    August 22, 2008 05:33 pm at 5:33 pm |
  25. Thomas

    I'm no longer undecided, I'm voting McCain!

    August 22, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
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