Clint Eastwood’s lasting impression

September 5, 2012

Clint Eastwood's one-of-a-kind Republican National Convention address attracted a lot of attention last week. Just how much? A new Pew Research Center for the People & the Press survey shows Eastwood's speech left as much of an impression in the minds of those who tuned in as Mitt Romney's speech did.

Among Americans who watched at least a little convention coverage, 20 percent said the actor/director's speech was the highlight while 17 percent said Romney's nomination acceptance address was the highlight. Eastwood gave his speech -- in which he used an empty chair to portray an imaginary conversation with President Obama -- on the final night on the convention, shortly before Romney took the stage.

Even among Republicans, Romney's speech was not a huge attention-grabber. Twenty-five percent of Republicans polled said that Romney's speech was the highlight of the convention. But Eastwood's address was not far behind: Nearly one-in-five (19 percent) Republicans named Eastwood's speech the highlight of the GOP gathering.

Twenty-six percent of independents said Eastwood's speech was the highlight of the convention, while a plurality of Democrats said there was no highlight.

While Romney may have had to compete with Eastwood for attention in Tampa, his chief concern is how he stacks up relative to Obama. The Pew poll shows that a plurality of Americans (44 percent) did not change their views of Romney coming out of the convention. More Americans (25 percent) came away with a more favorable view of Romney than a less favorable one (20 percent) coming out of the convention.

A Gallup poll released Monday showed Romney's standing was roughly the same nationally, coming out of the convention, while a CNN/ORC International survey released on Tuesday showed the head-to-head matchup between Romney and Obama is largely unmoved from where it was before the Tampa convention. Anecdotal evidence in some swing states shows Romney is slightly better off than he was before the convention.

The new Pew poll also confirmed the drop in interest in this year's GOP gathering. The survey shows that fewer Americans tuned in for last week's convention than in 2008: Just 37 percent of Americans said they watched some GOP convention coverage -- down from 56 percent in the 2008. Television ratings and other polling have also showed a decline in interest from the previous convention.

Sean Sullivan has covered national politics for The Washington Post since 2012.
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