The two-week convention phase of this election is now at its midpoint. We won’t know what the impact of the two conventions is until roughly Sept. 7-13, the full week after the Democratic convention closes in Charlotte. That will mark the beginning of Phase VI of the election – the period between the conventions and the first presidential debate on Oct. 3. The key question after next week's Democratic convention will be: Has the race for president been fundamentally reset in any way by the two weeks of the conventions? By “reset,” I mean has either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney moved ahead in the national vote by more than a few points, and stayed ahead for more than a few days?
We have been monitoring the potential impact of the Republican convention on the presidential race on a day-by-day basis. So far, we don’t see an impact. We report a seven-day rolling average of registered voters each day, each of which is based on more than 3,000 interviews. This reporting period is a very purposeful decision on our part -- even if a bit more “sluggish” than if we reported a three- or four-day average. The longer average dampens down short-term changes, and puts more of an emphasis on sustained changes.
The seven-day average has been at 47% Obama, 46% Romney for the last five days. As a matter of fact, both Obama and Romney for the most part have been at or around 46% since we began tracking in April. The latest Gallup average covers Aug. 26-Sept. 1, or Sunday through Saturday. That for the most part covers the GOP convention, albeit with only two days of polling completely after Thursday's climactic events, including Mitt Romney’s speech, and actor Clint Eastwood’s appearance.
At this point, as noted, there is no consistent change in the pattern of vote intentions within our Daily tracking. Each of the two candidates has been up at some point over the last week in the individual nightly numbers, but that’s normal. Romney so far has not been able to generate a sustained “bounce” from his convention over the last week.
We’ll know a little more when we report our seven-day average on Tuesday,September 4, which will contain include four days after Romney’s speech on Thursday. After that point, any impact of the GOP convention will begin to be co-mingled with the impact of the Democratic convention. That’s why the ultimate reckoning will be what the election landscape looks like after both conventions.
We do have some new data that reinforce the tentative conclusion that the Republican convention did not change the race. The results, from data gathered Friday and Saturday and set to be released on gallup.com Monday morning, show that both the self-reported impact of the GOP convention and evaluations of Romney’s speech were at the very low end of the scale compared with the previous years in which we have asked the same questions about other conventions and nominees.
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