8 Questions

Dan Balz on the Republican National Convention in Tampa

Question 8: Will the Romney-Ryan ticket lead the race after their convention?

It’s certainly possible, given how close the polls have been all summer. But any lead could disappear quickly once the Democrats take the stage in Charlotte.

Convention bounces have been closely studied over the years but it’s not clear that history is an effective guide these days. Romney got virtually no bounce out of the vice presidential announcement. And with the conventions back to back, as they were four years ago, the race could look very much as it does today when we get to early September.

The other wild card is what the Democrats do during the GOP convention to try to suppress any gains for Romney. Gone are the days when the opposition candidate spent a quiet week during their rival’s convention. Vice President Biden was planning to be in Tampa early in the week, a provocative bit of scheduling. He canceled because of the threatened hurricane but Obama will be on the campaign trail trying to crowd out the GOP’s message.

Typically, the challenger can expect a slightly bigger bounce, simply because he is less well known than the incumbent. But as Democrat Craig Varoga said, Romney will be “quickly un-reintroduced” by the Democrats in Charlotte.

Some GOP strategists are optimistic that their ticket will have the lead. Others say what’s important to watch are Romney’s personal ratings. If they turn upward, that would be a big help for the GOP ticket.