Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Pig-Uterus-Eating or Speechifying? No Contest.

Hi-De-Ho Rene,

Most pollsters of good repute are reporting a nil-to-negligible bounce for the Kerry-Edwards ticket after the Democratic National Convention, and some friends are pointing fingers at the TV networks. While motivated viewers could find gavel-to-gavel coverage on cable, the broadcast networks offered just one hour of prime-time coverage each night.

I was at the Republican National Convention in Philly four years ago. It was an incredible experience, and I would never trade the memory of it (even though it was often miserably hot and stuffy on the floor of the First Union Center). Still, the indelible impression from that convention was how precisely choreographed it was for television. The key messages were repeated at regular intervals, and the right faces were delivering them at the right time. It worked wonderfully well, but there was very little drama in it.

The Democrats’ convention this year seemed to take the choreography to a new level, and the result was a complete lack of drama. The only participant who appeared to stray from the precisely timed script was the Rev. Al Sharpton.

And we wonder why NBC would rather air a rerun of Fear Factor? As the conventions have become more and more media-savvy, the networks have become less and less interested. I would imagine that the first signs of network indifference led convention planners to be more precise: Knowing that they had a limited opportunity to reach the broadest audience, they wanted to make the most of it (and not miss a prime-time spot entirely, as McGovern did in ‘72). But now that precision has sucked the drama out of the conventions, how will they ever win back the networks -- or the viewers?



Blogger Rene said...

I saw very little of the convention coverage. I did catch part of the Obama speech which was probably the biggest thing of the whole event. He has a charisma and life story and speaking style that really is quite moving. However, I have to say the speech would have been just as good at a college graduation or something. Most of it was just plain and simple make sense life lessons that have little political overtones.

I caught most of Kerry's speech on the final night. It was okay but didn't really move me much. It had a little bit of a laundry list feel to it. Also, what surprised me was that he didn't take as strong a stance on the war on the terrorists that Edwards did the night before. I can't imagine that was UN-intentional given how scripted these things are.

If the 9/11 democrats were listening closely they would have noticed that and would have no reason to return to the fold.

Conventional wisdom says re-election campaigns are usually blow-outs with either the incumbant riding to a huge win (64, 72, 84, 96) or the incumbant thrown out (80, 92) in a blow out. The only exception I can think of is 1976 when the incumbant was narrowly defeated.

The political landscape seems to say 90% of the voters are locked in and it is that 10% they are fighting over. A replay of 2000 is highly likely at this point barring a drastic event.

On the all important electoral college maps, I hear the thinking is that only 10 states are toss ups and they will be treated to massive ads and candidate visits. As you might guess, nobody will show up in Los Angeles and if they do it will be a mere token visit.

8:57 PM  

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