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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Here is a chart of the RCP Poll of Polls from 2004.

The small, three-point jump for Kerry at the start of August was the Democratic National Convention, accompanied (oddly) by a concurrent small rise in Bush's numbers.

The five-point jump for Bush at the end of the month was of course the Republican National Convention, accompanied by a three-point drop in Kerry's numbers. You can see that gap start to narrow again almost immediately, but it was never enough.

Analogies between any two election years are almost always useless—but if I could link to the Three Guys politics blog I was doing in 2004 you would see how impressed I was with the Democratic National Convention, which seemed to quite literally do everything right. I left Boston feeling confident and completely energized, strongly behind a candidate who had been my third choice (at best) in the primary. But we lost, and we lost at least in part because the Republicans went to their convention, wore Purple Heart Band-Aids, and told the world what an asshole John Kerry is over and over again in every speech for four straight days.

The Republican Party may be a cancer in the colon of American democracy, but it knows how to win presidential elections. Democrats really don't.

2004's convention gave us Obama and a lot of hope and excitement and a lot of great speeches, but we lost. I think it's fair to start to wonder whether we're managing to lose again with an aimless, largely messageless, far too bloodless convention that in every respect but the prime-time speeches was significantly more lackluster than 2004's. Only last night had any real bite, and even then I still heard in each of the major speeches that John McCain is an American hero we must all deeply admire.

I'll be the first to admit that whenever I've questioned Obama's strategy in the past he and his people have turned out to be right, or at least right enough—but suffice it to say a whole lot is riding on Obama tonight, and I hope to hell he's able to deliver.