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A Split Convention And A Backwards Bounce

As I wrote below, this still feels at times like a contested convention. The media are looking to Sen. Hillary Clinton's speech tonight to the convention to bring all her supporters around. So is Barack Obama's campaign, whether fairly or unfairly (why should it be Clinton's job to unite the party, after all). But I don't see her speech doing that. Two new daily tracking polls (Rasmussen and Gallup) show Sen. Obama slipping in public support. Yes, he's getting a convention bounce, but a bounce in the wrong direction.

The Democratic National Convention has begun and the poll numbers are bouncing, but not in the direction that most people anticipated. The Rasmussen Reports daily presidential tracking poll for Tuesday shows Barack Obama attracting 44 percent of the vote while John McCain also earns 44 percent. When "leaners" are included, it's still tied with Obama at 46 percent and McCain at 46 percent. Yesterday, with leaners, Obama had a three-point advantage over McCain (see recent daily results).

It's always dangerous to read too much into daily tracking polls. But the timing of this drop for Obama could turn out to be significant. The Gallup Daily presidential tracking poll shows McCain ahead by a statistically-insignificant 2 points, but what's important is that Obama's selection of Sen. Joe Biden is not pulling in any support and candidates traditionally see a bounce coming out of their conventions, not a drop. This makes the Hillary vote, white working class Americans and white women 40+, all the more critical to Obama's efforts. The media spin and the campaign spin, putting the onus of party unification on Clinton, is bound to annoy her supporters all the more. I heard several of them complaining about it last night at the Pepsi Center while watching Michelle Obama's speech. Yes, Michelle Obama put in a complimentary line or two about Sen. Clinton, but the Obama campaign is going to have to do much, much more. Or perhaps there's nothing the campaign can do at this point to woo those voters back into the fold. I have heard too many diehard lifelong Democrats saying they are going to vote in November for the "down ticket" Democrats (Senate, Congress, local races, etc.) but they are not going to vote for a presidential candidate.

By Bonnie Erbe