The consensus of Republican and Democratic party operatives and activists is that the disruption of the GOP convention by Hurricane Isaac will have no real impact on the ability of the Republican gathering in Tampa to define Mitt Romney and his agenda. That is the finding of National Journal’s Convention Insiders Poll, an anonymous survey on Sunday of Democratic and Republican party and elected officials, grassroots activists, consultants, fundraisers, lobbyists and allied interest group leaders.
When asked what impact they thought “the delay in the Republican Convention will have on its ability to define Romney and his agenda for the fall campaign,” three-quarters of GOP Convention Insiders (76%) replied that it would have “no real impact,” and almost two-thirds (62%) of Democratic Convention Insides concurred. One hundred Democrats responded to this survey as did 140 Republicans.
Convention Insiders in both parties observed that the marquee speakers at the GOP will not have their speeches cut by the truncated schedule in Tampa and that the Monday night proceedings were not going to covered by the broadcast television networks anyway. Indeed, Insiders increasingly believe that a four-day convention is not critical to the success of the big event and getting a party’s message out.
“What counts will be the speeches by Romney, [Paul] Ryan, Ann Romney and Chris Christie,” said one GOP Convention Insider. “Americans will see them all.” Another Republican observed, “We still have three whole days and it’s not like the Romney campaign isn’t sending out lots of communications; before, during and after the convention.” And a Democratic Convention Insider noted, “We are on our way to two-day conventions; Romney will have ample time to articulate his themes. Now, will they resonate?” asked the Democrat, “Three versus four days won’t determine that.”
Some Insiders even joked that by being forced to compress their convention program, Republicans could benefit by not draining the attention span of average voters and by cancelling the speeches of some of the party’s more controversial figures or at least shoving them well out of prime time. “God loves Republicans,” said one GOP Convention Insider. “He is showing that by giving us one less day to speak.”
Only a quarter (24%) of Republican Insiders said that the delay in Tampa would “slightly hinder the convention’s ability to define Romney and his agenda,” as did roughly a third (36%) of Democratic Convention Insiders. Two percent of Democrats said that the delay would “significantly hinder” the convention’s ability to highlight Romney and his policies.
“You always want as much time as possible to showcase the candidate and any time that takes away from him or his message or ability to express his agenda has to be impactful and not in a good way,” asserted one GOP Convention Insider. “[The] last thing convention organizers want is unpredictability,” said a Democratic Insider. “And even a slight delay with throw them off their mojo.”
For a list of the Insiders, please visit nationaljournal.com/2012-conventions-insiders.