Will We See a Convention Bounce?

While watching the RNC on PBS last week, I noted some comments by former governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour. He suggested that with the compressed, back-to-back schedule of the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, that there would likely be no 'convention bounce', and that polls wouldn't reflect the impact of the conventions for at least three weeks. A few thoughts on this:

1. Haley Barbour has a horse in the race: Perhaps Republicans are fearing that there will be no convention bounce for them and Barbour is trying to temper expectations around polling.

2. Barbour doesn't understand the speed at which information is digested by the public in 2012: It is slightly difficult to believe that people, both the public and the punditry, will require three weeks to analyze, compare, and fact-check the information they receive from both the candidates and their entourages.

3. Maybe there is no such thing as a convention bounce anymore because of this rapid speed of information exchange/assimilation: Like a stock market which incorporates information efficiently and reflects it with every tick of the tape, perhaps voters today, unlike their nineteenth and twentieth century predecessors, have enough information to understand candidates as well as they can at any given time. They don't need big speeches to understand the platforms and positions.

4. Maybe the amount of information discussed above has lead to over-saturation: Convention bounces used to capture the excitement of voters in the wake of big speeches covered by print and radio media, then televised, media. In these days of Twitter, 24 hour news networks and the web, we all see enough of the candidates on a daily basis (sometimes whether we choose to or not) that even a big speech can fail to energize followers.

 5. Maybe he is right: Maybe Haley Barbour does understand everything above; after all, he is a veteran and savvy politician. Perhaps three weeks from now, polls will look a bit different than they do now, and maybe this will reflect independent voters' convention score cards, or represent the mobilization of one base or the other. In any case, I smell an opportunity to continue the semi-regular polling post series...


  1. Anonymous5/9/12 01:13

    I agree that there will be no post-convention bounce. Obama strategically timed his convention to smother his challenger's momentum--it's been clear he'd face a tight reelection battle for some time.

    I think convention "bounces" were due to lopsided coverage around conventions; having one convention on the heels of the other makes the attention more homogenous.

  2. Thanks for stopping by the site and sharing your thoughts.

    I think your comment lines up most closely with my point 4.

    On a separate note, it occurs to me that my points above aren't in the most logical of orders, or at least I could have done a better job setting out my positions based on what are essentially two points by Barbour. The first being that there will be no bounce, the second being that there will nonetheless be some noticeable impact in poll numbers three weeks after the conventions.

    My reactions address both those points without explicitly noting which in each case, but to be clear, I am discussing both of those items in my analysis.