When it came to the ratings of speeches at the Republican and Democratic convention the highest rated speech was of….Vice President Joe Biden. Joe Biden had Big Mo:
Nielsen has finished compiling the ratings from all the networks that covered the conventions, right down to C-Span, and a higher percentage of the total TV universe tuned in to Biden than to anyone else.
Specifically, Nielsen figures show Biden was watched by 14.7% of the 289.7 million people who live in U.S. television homes.
That’s about 43.6 million people.
President Obama was second with 13.7%, or about 39.7 million.
Republican nominee Mitt Romney was third with 12.5%, or 36.2 million.
So the whole field shook out like this, with their respective percentages of those 289.7 million viewers:
1. Joe Biden (D), 14.7%
2. Barack Obama (D), 13.7%
3. Mitt Romney (R), 12.5%
4. Bill Clinton (D), 10.9%
5. Marco Rubio (R), 10.4%
6. Clint Eastwood (R), 9.9%
7. Michelle Obama (D), 9.6%
8. Julian Castro (D), 8.9%
9. Paul Ryan (R), 8.8%
10. Ann Romney (R), 7.7%
There are now all kinds of theories making the Internet. Some dismissively say it’s because people expected Biden not to speak but to insert his foot in his mouth. However, it’s turning out that Mitt Romney is now out-Bidening Biden (so far).
Looking at these numbers, I see how some of these could be bad news for Romney. To wit:
*Biden, Obama and Clinton are in the top four. All four of those speeches have been considered by most (except Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh) to be either be solid speeches in terms of their intent (Biden and Clinton) or at least do-no-harm (Obama and some analysts say he did exactly what he needed to do and avoided soaring rhetoric that could be used against him in a gloomy economy).
*Of the top three GOP speeches, one speech has now been proclaimed to have been either a wash or harmful (Romney’s: did not significantly help him and no mention of the troops has come back to haunt him; The Politico story pretty much now calls it a mess and has sources not exactly hailing it in terms of craftsmanship or content); one excellent (Rubio); and one disastrous to all but conservative lock-step bloggers and talk show hosts (and again called a disaster by many Republcans…Clint Eastwood).
*Biden is laughed at by Republicans but Biden has shown that he has appeal to blue-collar audiences and connects with them. If you couple that with Clinton’s speech — which many consider one of the best of his career — and the high ratings for these two speeches, they reached an audience that listened to a case being laid out that the country’s present difficulties did not start when Obama took office but during a Republican administration, due to policies similar to those now being proposed by Republicans.
I’ve always been cynical about whether a speech or two can really change minds significantly — but if Obama’s “bump” doesn’t totally evaporate you could argue that the high ratings of key Democratic Party speakers, their speeches carefully crafted messages, and the poor notices of Romney’s and Eastwood’s parts of the RNC program may not have changed the game, but made the game tougher for GOPers.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.