A new Gallup Poll basically finds that the Republican Convention proved a wash to most voters — and that Republican Presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s Presidential speech got the lowest ratings of any nomination speech Gallup has measured since 1996.
Last week’s Republican National Convention had a minimal impact on Americans’ self-reported voting intentions, with just about as many saying the convention made them less likely to vote for Mitt Romney as say it made them more likely to vote for him.
These results, based on Gallup Daily tracking conducted Aug. 31-Sept. 1, showed predictable partisan differences. Republicans overwhelmingly said the convention made them more likely to vote for Romney, although most would likely be voting for their nominee anyway. Democrats as predictably said the convention made them less likely to vote for Romney. Independents, a key group in any presidential election, were essentially split, with 36% saying the convention made them more likely to vote for Romney and 33% less likely — although 30% said they don’t know or that the convention made no difference.
Gallup has asked this question after selected conventions going back to 1984. Although the question was asked at differing time intervals after the conventions and in different survey contexts, the results give a rough approximation of the conventions’ relative impact.
This historical context shows that the 2012 GOP convention generated about the same impact as the two previous Republican conventions — in 2008, when John McCain was nominated for president, and in 2004, when George W. Bush was re-nominated.
And on Romney’s speech, which many new and old media Republican analysts have been saying laid out his case for being President and helped redefine him and made him stronger as a candidate?
Romney’s acceptance speech this year scored low by comparison to previous convention speeches going back to 1996. Thirty-eight percent of Americans rated the speech as excellent or good, while 16% rated it as poor or terrible. The 38% who rated the speech as excellent or good is the lowest rating of any of the eight speeches Gallup has tested since Bob Dole’s GOP acceptance speech in 1996.
Obama’s 2008 speech was the most warmly received of the eight speeches Gallup has evaluated using this measure — 58% of Americans rated it as excellent or good. Americans evaluated McCain’s speech in 2008 less positively, but at 47% excellent or good, it was still more highly rated than Romney’s this year.
As is the case for Americans’ evaluations of the conventions’ impact, their evaluations of speeches do not necessarily presage victory in November. Obama’s speech was more highly evaluated in 2008 than McCain’s, and Obama went on to win. Kerry’s and Bush’s 2004 speeches were equally highly evaluated, but Bush won the election.
The bottom line? Gallup says this:
Americans’ immediate reactions to the Republican convention do not by themselves predict who is going to win in November. That is particularly true at this point in the election campaign, given that there is not yet any comparative information from the Democratic convention, which gets underway in Charlotte on Sept. 4.
Still, these preliminary data show that both the self-reported impact of the convention and the evaluation of Romney’s speech are at the bottom of the scale of comparable evaluations from recent conventions.
Gallup Daily tracking data through Sept. 1 show no change in the positioning of the two candidates when Americans are asked for whom they would vote if the election were held today. Thus, Americans’ relatively weak reaction to the Republican convention does not appear to have hurt their likelihood of voting for Romney so far, although it apparently is related to the lack of a typical convention bounce.
Here’s the latest Pollster composite of polls, which shows a virtual tie:
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