[author: George C. Crawford]
Now that both conventions have wrapped up, attention will turn to the analysis of which nominee, Mr. Romney or Mr. Obama, benefited the most from their respective party's gathering.
From the Democrats' perspective, the three days in Charlotte came close to achieving all of their objectives. Apart from some self-inflicted wounds - having to amend the platform on the convention floor, for instance - the feeling was that all of the party's major objectives were accomplished.
Foremost was that of framing the election as a choice and not a referendum. Nate Silver in his FiveThirtyEight blog offers an insightful analysis that looks at the conventions from the "choice/referendum" perspective. He notes that each party tried to accentuate their perceived strength while also trying to shore up their perceived weaknesses. Thus, the Democrats spent much of the convention trying to make the election about a choice while Republicans spent the majority of their time on a critique of the President's record. In other words, the Republicans focused most of their fire on trying to make the election a referendum on the President. And the language used by the nominees in their respective acceptance speeches backs up this assertion. Mr. Obama used the word "choice" 21 times in his acceptance speech while Mr. Romney used the word "choice" 5 times. Instead, Mr. Romney used the majority of his speech to attack the Obama record.
Another major objective of the Democrats was to rekindle the type of enthusiasm amongst supporters that the President enjoyed 4 years ago. Again, in this regard, the Democrats felt that they were quite successful. From Julian Castro to Michelle Obama, from Joe Biden and John Kerry to Bill Clinton, the Democrats believe that they successfully framed the argument of why supporters should be enthusiastic and care about reelecting the President. And while the reviews of the President's acceptance speech where mixed, the feeling was that the major speeches from the previous evenings were so strong that they more than made up for a speech that many felt was not up to the standard of previous speeches given by Mr. Obama at previous conventions.
A third objective of the convention was to further solidify the Democratic portrait of Mr. Romney in voters' minds. The Democrats continued their unrelenting portrayal of Mr. Romney and the Republican Party as out of touch with average Americans. In addition, the Democrats spent quite a bit of time attacking the Republicans for advocating policies that they contend don't add up and questioning the readiness of Messrs. Romney and Ryan in the area of foreign policy.
How the anemic jobs report on Friday will influence any post-convention "bounce" has yet to be determined but early polling indicates that the Democrats scored better than Republicans coming out of their convention and have reason to be satisfied with their performance in Charlotte.