Starting Gate: Double Bump?

In a campaign year unlike any other, we're approaching yet more uncharted territory over the next three and a half weeks. Consider that in this very short period of time, both of the presidential candidates will unveil their running mates, both parties will hold their nominating conventions and you have jam-packed schedule.

The guessing game on the VP picks suggests that we can expect Obama's decision early next week. That gives his campaign a solid week to launch the ticket unless the campaign opts to wait until a little later in the week. There could be a game of chicken going on here – announcing early in the week gives the McCain camp an opportunity to counter with their own choice a couple of days later.

But most speculation centers on McCain waiting until the day after the Democratic convention ends, thereby trying to steal a little of any momentum Obama might have coming out of it. Gamesmanship aside, there's going to be a lot happening in a blink of an eye in upcoming days.

In 2004, there was a full month between nominating conventions (something that Democrats, who went first, were so unhappy with that they made sure not to repeat that timing again). John Kerry announced his selection of John Edwards as his running mate in early July, three weeks before his nominating convention in Boston. President Bush, of course, already had his running mate. What took place over the course of nearly two months four years ago will happen in 3 weeks this year.

What that might mean for the "bump" candidates sometimes get from these major events is a big unknown. With all of these events running together, it's entirely possible that either will get much of a boost in the polls at all. Obama appears to have the best opportunity to turn the coming weeks into some momentum. He could get a little more running room for his vice presidential rollout and with the much-anticipated acceptance speech at Invesco Field, his theatrics are almost certain to be better.

But with that upside comes risks. Neither need a running mate who is a "wow" pick but both need to avoid one that falls flat for one reason or another. Expectations for Obama's convention are sky high but Mother Nature can deliver a pretty good show of her own on an August evening in Denver and there remain a lot of questions about how a speech in the open-air stadium might ultimately come across on television.

Expectations for McCain are lower but he has the advantage of being second in the convention schedule and will be the last image remaining from the whirlwind of events to come. Will both candidates get a "bump" that leaves the race basically where it is right now, with Obama the slight front-runner? Or will someone get a "double bump" and pull into a clear lead going into the fall debates?

Around The Track

  • Former Virginia Governor (and current Senate candidate) Mark Warner has been tapped to deliver the keynote speech at the Democratic convention on Tuesday, August 26th. The "theme" of the night is "Renewing America's Promise" and Warner will highlight the economy and domestic issues. "As Governor of Virginia, Warner used his experience in business to help deliver jobs and hope to the citizens of Virginia," said Obama campaign manager David Plouffe. "His work creating jobs in Southwest and Southside Virginia is a model for the rest of the Country."
  • The Washington Post looks at the lobbying done for Georgia by McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann at a time when he was advising the campaign.
  • Joe Lieberman, the 2000 Democratic Vice Presidential nominee-turned McCain supporter, blasted Obama on the situation in Georgia at a McCain campaign event yesterday. "The last few days, four or five days, we've seen one of the most unexpected crises in the world as the Russians moved into Georgia as aggressors," Lieberman said. "And if you read the statements from the beginning, Senator McCain and Senator Obama, one had kind of moral neutrality to it that comes I think from inexperience. The other, Senator McCain, was strong and clear and principled and put America where America always wants to be."
  • The USA Today asks whether McCain is taking a risk by airing negative ads during the feel-good Olympics.