August 22nd, 2008
03:45 PM ET
10 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. chris in oregon

    I think Mc with a Cain is trying to be Obama's social coordinator. He keeps advising him where he should visit and predicting how sucessful he would be. Obama will deccide his campaigns own direction. He doesn't need predictions from failed pundits.

    August 22, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  2. Anonymous


    August 22, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  3. Brendan H., San Antonio, TX

    Here's another "Expectation":

    Somebody will explain how you can have a mediocre military academy career and still get your first choice of flight school.

    August 22, 2008 05:34 pm at 5:34 pm |
  4. CM

    Mark, Milwaukee....

    Obama won more votes in the electoral system agreed upon by all parties. The Clinton's will have their time next eight years.

    There is no way HRC will be the nominee, all the donations have been to Obama. She will have nothing to start with and no campaigning/groundwork done. McCain will kill her just on logistics alone not to mention the skeletons in the closet and the GOP base showing up in force against her.

    Polls don't mean anything here, she hasn't been battle tested against McCain's smear campaign as yet. Get behind the Dem and lets start the healing now. HRC will run the Senate until her time comes.

    August 22, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  5. ree

    I am tired of all this.

    I don't make my decision on who I am going to vote by who is ahead in the polls or who the VP is.

    Obama is trying to keep his face all over the news with this stupid announcement email text message. It's all a game.

    Don't care what day his speech is on not going to have my tv on any news station.

    Anyway, why would anyone want to vote for someone who keeps changing his mind, just gives a good speech, same attitude as Bush, wife very racist, and the most hateful supporters I have ever seen.

    August 22, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  6. Crush Rush

    If you elect McCain,you may as well invest in the makers of body bags and draft cards.

    August 22, 2008 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  7. S. Boatman

    Hillary Is Not Going To Be On The Ticket. . . She Got The Call At 3 Am!

    August 22, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  8. Mark R. Milwaukee WI

    A recent poll showed only 57% of Hillary supporters willing to vote for Barack. Put her in as VP and the sky is the limit.

    August 22, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  9. The Nightingale Sings in Berkley Square

    I think that obama will pick Harry Reid for his VP What a pair. Obama the most liberal leftie in the senate and Reid head of the do nothing congress.

    Obama is risky and it would be a gamble to see him running the White House.

    Please join John S McCain during this campaign year and help elect him as our 44th President. He will permit digging for oil and I agree we need more oil.

    He will bring security and experience to the table, while defending America, your values and your wallet.

    August 22, 2008 05:36 pm at 5:36 pm |
  10. TRICIA

    Another day, another McSame meltdown.

    McSame: Verb, Noun, POW


    August 22, 2008 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  11. P Carter

    Instead of talking about the Dem Conventaion, McCain need to explain why he will reinstate the draft!!!

    August 22, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  12. Perusing-through

    Thanks James, so true, so true . . . .

    McCain's campaign is a NOUN, a VERB, and POW!

    I was shocked to hear McCain camp try to use his POW experience as a crutch for not knowing how many properties the McCain's own.
    In one singlestupid statement, the McCain camp just killed the last bit of honor I had for him.

    August 22, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  13. Clinton/McCain

    Shut up about the freaking houses. Move on! Is that all you've got Obama?

    August 22, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  14. Debby

    15 points he can't even get 8 over McCain now.

    August 22, 2008 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  15. Independent woman voter

    If Obama picks her I will not vote for him.

    August 22, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  16. Used to be a Repuglican

    Hey Rob – how does it feel to know that mccain voted against every GI bill during his career? But don't believe me, look up his record. He doesn't care that are semper fi, he could care less about us GI's, his most recent vote against us was a month ago. True vets aren't voting for him, they know his record.
    Also how dare mccain put an ad in spanish when earlier this year he joked that latinos were good for one thing, cheap labor. But it's not funny.

    August 22, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  17. Cecil

    Hey McRichie Rich, How Many Cars Do You Own!
    Ask Your Staff And Let Us Know
    Thank You

    McNOT 08

    August 22, 2008 05:39 pm at 5:39 pm |
  18. Barbara - NC

    Only GOD in heaven knows when human life begins – anyone heard directly from GOD? Didn't think so.

    It's above EVERYONE's pay grade idiot.

    August 22, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  19. Mark R. Milwaukee WI

    There are some people who have legitimate concerns about putting somebody so green in the whitehouse. Having a seasoned veteran like Hillary as VP will allay those fears. We don't need another stodgy white man in there- we need change!!! Obama/Clinton is a dream ticket!

    August 22, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. dittohead with forty names

    I dont want to get drafted,I just want to have fun sitting in mom and dads cellar,playing games and blogging for chaos.

    August 22, 2008 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  21. eugene

    mccain sucks go obama

    August 22, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  22. W O W W O W

    S O U N D S – L I K E – C N N- P A P

    August 22, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  23. TRICIA

    Vegas, the only complete tools are the idiots glued to their TV sets (no offence, Wolf) waiting for news of the text message.

    Hows about ou leave your mom's basement and go get some fresh air?

    August 22, 2008 05:41 pm at 5:41 pm |
  24. Barbara - NC

    Blitzer must be moderating – HA. Notice how all of the Pro-Hillary people get on several times?

    HA ha ha ha UNfair and IMbalanced

    August 22, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
  25. Biffington, Biff

    John 'songbird' McCain = Jane Fonda

    August 22, 2008 05:42 pm at 5:42 pm |
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