No reasonable observer could question that the Democratic National Convention outclassed the Republicans’ out-of-tune, mishmashy effort in Tampa. (Christie and Clint, need we say more?) Leaving aside poor dear Martin O’Malley, the Maryland governor who fumbled a prime-time opportunity to elevate his 2016 prospects, the headliners were sharp, message-coordinated, and (we’re talking about you, Michelle and Bill) sometimes flat-out brilliant. Maybe the Dems will end up with a bit more of a bounce than the Republicans.
But there’s little real chance—barring the intervention of outside events, or debate disasters of epic proportions—that anybody’s going to break the gridlock that’s existed between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama since late spring. Not, that is, until 60 days from now, November 6. With few persuadable voters, and with the economy likely to keep trudging along slowly and steadily and unsatisfactorily, 2012 is shaping up as perhaps the ultimate “turnout election.” The campaigns will still be exchanging fire, of course. And as Andy Borowitz writes at The New Yorker, they will now “spend hundreds of hours and millions of dollars to become President of Ohio.” But by and large, they’ll both be talking past each other—and straight to their respective choirs.
Romney won’t win without a history-making edge among white men and married women, or without a 2010-level enthusiasm from Tea Party and evangelical voters. Obama can’t win without rekindling the coalition that lifted him in 2008. While the president’s task is arguably harder, the DNC also shone on this front. While the prime-timers aimed at a broader audience, just about everything that came before the 10 p.m. hour was aimed at Latinos, African Americans, socially progressive white professionals, women, young people, LGBT people, and what’s left of labor. It’s quite a coalition, and if it holds, it’ll soon become quite a majority coalition. But 2012 could be one last chance for an overwhelmingly white party, with an overwhelmingly high turnout, to win another one for their imaginary Gipper. It will all depend on which choir sings the loudest on Election Day.
So They Say
"There was a stool there, and some fella kept asking me if I wanted to sit down. When I saw the stool sitting there, it gave me the idea."
—Clint Eastwood, explaining the origins of "Eastwooding"
Daily Meme: Where's the Love?
- Obama gave his much-anticipated acceptance speech last night. If there were a Rotten Tomatoes for politicos, he would have earned a solid 50 percent.
- Ed Schultz said: “He made the American people feel good tonight ... It was vintage Barack Obama.”
- But ... that was one of the very few entirely positive reactions to the speech.
- Jason Zengerle wrote: "Clinton's the guy you'd want coaching your team for the whole season, but if you had to choose a coach for just one absolutely must-win game, Obama would be your guy. He did not rise to that occasion and win the big game tonight, and it's quite possible he didn't need to.
- David Corn called it "serious-minded and not quite soaring."
- Also at Mother Jones, Kevin Drum writes: "Barack Obama's speech tonight was ... OK."
- Jonathan Cohn thinks we oughta cut the guy a break: "Inspiration on Thursday night would have been difficult."
- John Cassidy adds: "For an incumbent President running for reëlection in objectively unfavorable circumstances, who has somehow managed to build up a steady if narrow lead in the polls, it may have been precisely what was needed."
- "We should have seen this coming," according to Tom Junod. "We were told that it was coming, all week long. We were warned. We should have known that Barack Obama would emerge from this convention conventionalized."
- Molly Ball said he "got up and just sort of didn't do anything special."
- Timothy Noah went to far as to compare it to Jimmy Carter's Malaise speech.
- The Onion, on the other hand, applauded Obama's promise to “destroy Jesus and usher in a new age of liberal darkness that shall reign o’er the earth for a thousand years.”
What We're Writing
- Jamelle Bouie wraps up the convention with five things you should take away.
- Patrick Caldwell grades the contenders for the 2016 Democratic nomination.
What We're Reading
- Todd Aiken’s campaign can’t pay its TV ad bills.
- Will black voters turn out for Obama?
- R.E.M. tells Fox to stop using its music. Michael Stipe: "We have little or no respect for their puff adder brand of reportage. Our music does not belong there."
- Buzzfeed shares the things they learned at the Democratic convention, of course,pictorially.
- Alex Seitz-Wald asks why didn't Dems mention gun control this week?
- Romney's options for pulling ahead in the race are running out, says Jon Chait.
- John McWhorter compares Obama and Clinton's rhetorical styles.
- Nathaniel Stein notes that "Bill Clinton ... doesn’t read from a Teleprompter: he converses with it."
Poll of the Day
Obama's Gallup approval rating has reached heights not seen since the killing of Osama bn Laden, showing that he might already be getting some of that sweet convention bump. From September 4 to 6, his approval rating was 52 percent—a seven point jump from last week.
For more polling information, go to the Prospect’s 2012 election map.