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Opinion: Preview Of November? Democrats Trounce Republicans In Convention Ratings

The Buck Starts Here

The early returns are in and, according to the Neilson rating company, the Democrats beat the Republicans... and the NFL.

Republican strategists thought they were boxing in Democrats by forcing them to hold a convention after Labor Day. It did not work out as they had hoped.

They actually gave the Democrats a bigger platform to make their case. More viewers tuned in.

The party out of power always selects their convention dates first. Republicans miscalculated that by having their convention in the last week before Labor Day that Democrats would suffer from having a convention after Labor Day.

According to people's remotes the Democrats look to have won the viewing audience vote.

Republican numbers were way down. So far down they looked like the economic numbers at the end of the Bush Administration – down 30 percent from the John McCain and Sarah Palin convention in Minneapolis.

In fact, the TLC reality show about a 7-year-old child pageant contestant, Here Comes Honey Boo Boo, did better with the 18-49 year old demographic than the Republican convention did on any one channel during the prime time 10:00 hour.

By every form of ratings arithmetic Democrats did well.

On Tuesday, Democrats out drew Republican viewers by more than 17 percent.

The Democrats day two attracted the same size audience as the second and third days of the 2008 convention – which did not go head to head with the NFL.

But even with the opening game featuring two big market rivals with national followings, the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys, Bill Clinton beat the game head to head according to the Neilson rating company.

So while the Republicans were down 30 percent the Democrats held even – with the added disadvantage of the NFL opener.

Overall, the full numbers will be in next week. But Democrats clearly were helped by the Republicans "strategic" scheduling decision.

Out of touch with the routine of American families they clearly were blindsided by the fact that Americans spend the pre-Labor Day period getting ready for school and wrapping up summer vacations.

They also offered viewers little of interest.

They gave Democrats a great week to push their message as families are settling in, getting back into their school year routines.

They gave the Democrats a big mallet to drive their message home.

It is just another example of Republican mismanagement of fundamental politics in this race.

When I first worked on a national campaign it was Bill Clinton's run in 1992. His convention helped catapult him into the lead and the presidency.

Democrats were particularly focused that year on running a smooth campaign free of divisive politics, consistent on messaging and visually appealing.

It is the four (or this year three) days that you have the most control over in a Presidential election and Ronald Reagan's team had delivered a masters class in running effective Conventions in 1980 and 1984.

Now it is the Democrats that put on conventions that deliver their message more effectively.

Romney's reduced television audience led to no bounce coming out of his convention. In the days ahead we will see if the President moved the needle with voters as well as viewers.

About Bill Buck

Bill Buck is a Democratic strategist, President of the Buck Communications Group, a media relations and new media strategies consulting business based in Washington, DC, and Managing Director of the online ad firm Influence DSP. He has over twenty years of international and national communications experience. The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of CBS Local.


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