(Providence, Rhode Island) – It’s good to be home after two weeks on the road at the Republican National Convention in Tampa and the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte. The fall campaign is now in full swing, and it’s going to be a fight to the finish. Here are some post-convention observations:
“Eight is Enough” – The news was not good for the Obama administration the morning after his acceptance speech. The economy created only 96,000 new jobs in August, far short of the projected 160,000. With two months to go before the election, the employment numbers don’t bode well for the incumbent. But the unemployment rate dipped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent. My prediction is this: If unemployment remains at 8 percent or higher, Mitt Romney wins; if it drops to 7.9 percent or lower, Barack Obama wins. Eight seems to be the magic number.
“Debate Watch” – I think the debates will matter a lot this year - more than any other year I can remember. The last time debates really turned a presidential race was in 1980. Jimmy Carter was still leading Ronald Reagan after Labor Day, until their first debate in late September. By the time of the final debate, Reagan had pulled even in the polls and was gaining momentum daily. He won in a landslide. What was the famous line from those debates? “Are you better off today that you were four years ago?” The presidential debates are October 3, 16 and 22. The vice presidential debate is October 11.
“Best Lines” – Speaking of good one-liners, Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) probably had the best line of both conventions when he said, “Ask Osama Bin Laden if he is better off today than he was four years ago.”
“What Goes Around Comes Around” – In various radio, TV and webcast interviews this week, I have been asked a lot about my prediction that this is now a one-state race, and that Iowa with its six Electoral College votes will be the decider in this election. Polls consistently indicate it to be the closest of the toss-up states. Right now President Obama holds a .2 percent lead in the polls. This week I spoke with Iowa State Treasurer Mike Fitzgerald (D-IA), who has been in office thirty years and has seen a lot of elections. Fitzgerald said, “Boy it’s going to be exciting in Iowa. Both sides are going to be right on our doorstep. And Iowans, just like we started the election [with the Caucuses], we’re probably going to finish it.” Who was in Iowa the morning after the DNC ended? Barack Obama, Joe Biden and Mitt Romney!
“Bounce Back” – Before the conventions, President Obama had a 1.3 percent advantage in the national composite poll. The poll averages last week gave Mitt Romney about a 3-percentage-point bounce coming out of the RNC. This week, it looks as if Barack Obama got a bounce of approximately 3 percent. Again – after showing an exact tie on Thursday – the composite poll now shows Mr. Obama with a 1.3 percent lead. In essence, the conventions appear to have neutralized one another.
“The ‘Ayes’ Have It!” (Or Do They?) – The oddest moment in the Democratic National Convention was when the Convention Chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, decided to re-vote on platform language that would add references to God and Jerusalem back into the platform. When he called for a voice vote, it was clear that the “nays” were equally as loud as the “ayes.” After asking for the voice vote three times, the Chairman said in his opinion that the “ayes” represented two-thirds of the vote, and the “nays’ only one-third. CNN’s Don Lemon did a great job dissecting this Saturday night, including the stunning revelation that the two-third- vs. one-third-vote outcome had been written into the teleprompter in advance for Mayor Villaraigosa to read! (The teleprompter screen is huge, and in a place where I estimate 80 percent of the delegates could read it!) Talk about a preordained outcome! While some analysts thought the crowd was booing the language about God and Jerusalem, I believe what they were really booing was an obviously rigged vote and a decision that was ultimately stolen from their hands. Wow!
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