Democratic Convention 2008. Are We Already Screwed? Email Print

Inspired by Markos's straw polls (at Daily Kos), I started noodling around looking at some things related to the 2008 election.  And lo and behold I noticed this disturbing fact regarding the schedule for the parties' conventions:

The 2008 Democratic National Convention will be the 2008 United States presidential nominating convention of the Democratic Party. It will be held from Monday, August 25, through Thursday, August 28, 2008, after the Summer Olympics in Beijing. (The 2008 Republican National Convention will start just 4 days later, on September 1, 2008).

WTF?  The Republican convention will start just four days after the Democratic convention?  That will give the Democratic candidate almost no time to enjoy a "bounce" or a "honeymoon" or anything else.  Any message developed by the candidates at the convention will be immediately swamped by the Republicans, just four days later.

In 2000, the last time both parties had a wide-open field, George W. Bush had a huge and extended bounce after his convention, going up by 17 points, a lead Gore never erased in the polls until the election itself.  (Most people don't remember that Gore's popular vote victory in the 2000 election was a huge surprise, as the polls showed Bush with a 3-4 point lead on the weekend before the election.).  That extended post-convention period allowed Bush to bond with uninvolved voters, and it is going to be quite important in 2008 with two relatively unknown candidates, since the convention and post convention period will be the best time to get the kind of exposure needed for the candidates to reach uninvolved voters.

Perhaps there's a really cool strategy here I'm missing (I can think of several plausible strategies, but none of them strike me as particularly effective).  But, overall, this just strikes me as really counterproductive, and something that we could easily fix by having the convention before the Olympics.

(Yes, I know there is an issue of matching funds and spending caps, but Kerry has said that his biggest mistake in '04 was taking the matching funds and subjecting himself to the caps, and it's quite likely the '08 candidates will both forego the caps altogether).

So, is it too late to change this potential scheduling fiasco?  Or is there a method to this madness that I'm missing?

Anybody know?  


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Howard Dean would be more savvy than that. Heck even us dumb ol bloggers can figure this one out.


Political Cortex -- Brain Food for the Body Politic

by Tom Ball on 07/20/2006 06:06:15 PM EST

I've been writing about the convention dates on my blog 2008 Democratic Convention Watch since they were announced in November, 2005. See especially my posts here, here, here and a group of posts in early April.

I'll try to summarize here, but see the posts for more detailed information.

First, the party in the White House traditionally gets to have their convention last. While the Dems are not bound to this, it prevents silly games. And when Dean pre-emptively announced the late August date, it put the GOP in a bind. (see below)

We don't know if the Democratic candidate will give up matching funds in the general. If they don't, a July convention is deadly from a money viewpoint. (And there might be political pressure for both parties to accept the matching funds).

An early convention gives the GOP 4-5 weeks to hammer at the themes, which hurt Kerry in 2004.

The week leading into Labor Day weekend is a great week, as the convention leads right into the traditional Labor Day campaign kickoff.

On the other hand, the GOP was forced into either the 1st or 2nd week of September. The first week starts on Labor Day. Talk about starting the convention with noone paying attention. Not to mention grumpy press losing their holiday weekend. The GOP couldn't go the following week as fall TV schedules start, and the convention would have ended on 9/11, and even the GOP didn't want to go there.

Your point on the bounce being depressed is valid, but I think a July date presents bigger problems, and would allow the GOP into the late August date.

I've thought about this alot, and I think the last week in August is probably the best week to have a convention.

Some of the press reports on the date:

US News wrote:

Dean's unusually early announcement has irked the GOP, and there are rumors that the Republicans might try to spoil the Democratic event by choosing the same dates. But Republicans insist that's unlikely.

The Washington Post wrote:

The choice of the date -- and the announcement so far in advance -- is also tactically important. Democrats want to avoid what happened in 2004, when Republicans took a date in late August, forcing the Democrats to hold their nominating convention in late July to avoid competing with the Summer Olympics. As a result, presidential nominee John F. Kerry had to give his address a month earlier than President Bush and withstand an additional month of GOP attacks.

The Hotline wrote:

In '05, DNC Chair Howard Dean announced that the party would hold its convention from 8/25-8/28, effectively boxing GOPers into either holding the convention the same week as the Democrats -- which the RNC rejected -- or holding it the week after.

Rules in several states prevent presidential nominees from being added to the general election ballot after a certain point -- usually early September.

which forced the GOP into Labor Day week. Note also that the Democrats will never hold their convention in September due to the large number of teacher delegates.

And the Washington Post wrote when the GOP finally chose their date:

Republicans privately seethed, arguing that the DNC's move was intended to box them into holding their convention before the Summer Olympics, which run Aug. 8-24.

Hope this helps shed some light on the convention date game.

by matt on 07/20/2006 11:45:44 PM EST