[author: Thomas J. Spulak]
Last week’s Democratic convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, was all that President Obama and the Democratic party could have wanted. The 4-day cheerleading session went off without a hitch apart from a few exceptions. The platform fight over the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the inclusion of God in the platform showed that regardless of how well planned a platform can be, substance and politics often collide. The venue for President Obama’s acceptance speech also provided fodder for critics by suggesting that it was moved indoors over concerns that the 70,000 seats in the outdoor arena would not be filled. Regardless of where it took place, however, the President’s speech received high marks. Obama artfully admitted to failing to achieve total success in many areas, but took credit for putting the nation on track to a full and robust recovery - if only the course is stayed. The alternative, he offered, is to choose Governor Romney and risk losing the progress that his Administration has achieved. Certainly this strategy is a gamble that bets on Americans being content with progress rather than total success. Polls taken after the speech seemed to suggest that the strategy could work.
The selection of speakers at the convention succeeded in exciting the Democratic base. The opening night’s keynote speaker, Julian Castro, the youthful Mayor of San Antonio, Texas, set the tone. Other speakers included Elizabeth Warren, the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate from Massachusetts, and former Michigan governor Jennifer Granholm. These and others focused on the critical role that Democrats hope women and Hispanics will play in determining the outcome of the election.
The stars of the convention were First Lady Michelle Obama and former President Bill Clinton, who, in an almost 50-minute speech, set out the rationale for Obama’s reelection.
To be sure, both conventions succeeded at what they attempted to achieve - a rallying of the base and a successful start to the bell lap of the Presidential race. As expected, both candidates saw a small post-convention bounce in the polls, but with the President’s convention going last, he enters the first week of the home stretch up 4 points in the latest Gallup tracking poll.
Congress has returned from its August recess and the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and Democratic-controlled Senate will each do its best to support their party’s candidate. With the exception of agreeing to a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through the election, little will be done until the Lame Duck congress that will convene in mid-November.