In America, the convention duel is over and there can now be little doubt that Barack Obama won it. Whereas Mitt Romney saw only a very modest boost in his polling numbers during the Republican convention, Obama has received a much bigger bounce, not only wiping out any advantage Romney gained the previous week, but actually leaving him with a bigger lead than he’d enjoyed before. On both Gallup and Rasmussen’s national tracking polls, he now enjoys a commanding five-point lead. And that could well continue to grow: the Gallup number still includes responses from before the Democratic convention even began. Nate Silver’s forecasting model now gives Obama an 80.7 per cent chance of securing re-election — his highest of the campaign.
And how did Obama achieve this? There was his characteristically excellent speech on Thursday night, but perhaps more important were the support acts: in particular his wife Michelle on Tuesday and Bill Clinton on Wednesday, both of whom received rave reviews. And, importantly, far more people watched the Democrats than had watched their opponents the week before. Obama’s speech was watched by 35.7 million Americans, compared to 30.3 million for Romney’s. The conventions are basically free advertising for the candidates, and Obama’s ads reached many more eyes than his opponent’s.
And the good news for Team Obama doesn’t stop there. Last night, they revealed that they’d raised $114 million in August to Romney’s $111.6 million — after being outrasied by the Republicans for the previous three months. While that’s a welcome sign for the Obama campaign, Romney will still enjoy a big financial advantage thanks to very well-funded outside groups like Karl Rove’s American Crossroads ‘super PAC’.
But Obama has always been the favourite in the race for the White House — although sometimes only just. Romney has now seen two of his biggest opportunities — the appointment of his running mate and the Republican convention — come and go, and instead of turning the race around he’s actually lost ground to the President. He’s running out of time to catch up.