Now that the Republican and Democratic National Conventions are over, so is the party. As the candidates themselves are gearing up for the last few weeks leading up to the election, it’s worthwhile to take a quick look at some of the stats that were drawn from the two events.
Here’s another retrospective in numbers and highlightson the circus of the past couple weeks.
It was a smart move to push the opening game of the NFL season to Wednesday. Had the programming of that heartbreaking Giants/Cowboys game conflicted with the president’s acceptance of the party’s nomination on Thursday, we’d need to double up on monitors. Overall, the conventions drew formidable living room crowds. The turnout for the final nights when each candidate spoke are below:
DNC: 35.7 million viewers, 2.7 million down from 2008
RNC: 30.3 million viewers, 8.7 million down from 2008
Below you can see the buzzwords used most often in speeches from the DNC and RNC. These trends, while expected, reveal something far more concerning about the polemics and priorities of each party. “Obama,” “Romney,” “jobs,” “families,” “energy” and “immigration” were frequent and common to both parties.
For Democrats, among the most used words were “middle class,” “forward,” “health,” “education,” “women,” “vote,” “Medicare,” “auto,” “veteran,” “military” and “workers.”
For Republicans, they were “government,” “business,” “unemployment,” “regulation,” “church,” “freedom,” “leadership,” “God” and “small business.”
What’s concerning is that issues that should be priorities for all elected officials have been segregated into colors and seats and states. Understandably (but nevertheless unfortunately), the national conventions are not platforms for rational discussion of important issues. More than anything, the conventions were, like football games, stadiums filled with people decked out in their team’s color waiting for something sensational to scream about.
(Unreasonably) Great Expectations
High expectations were plentiful on both ends.
While it is irrelevant to nitpick the speeches of guest orators, families and actors, certainly we can hold the candidates themselves accountable for what they choose to highlight, promise and claim in their speeches.
As we talked about last week, Bill Clinton’s DNC speech last Wednesday was a particularly riling endorsement and was well-received across the board. But he’s an exception, being both a former president and one of the better orators of our time.
Turning to a few excerpts from the candidates: Romney said in his speech, “Every American was relieved the day President Obama gave the order and Seal Team 6 took out Osama bin Laden. (Cheers, applause.) On another front, every American is less secure today because he has failed to slow Iran’s nuclear threat.” The suggestion being made was that Obama was not aggressive enough diplomatically (or militaristically) to stymie Iranian nuclear build-up, and presumably Romney would have better orchestrated the diplomatic failure.
“I have a plan to create 12 million new jobs,” Mitt Romney said, along with promises to protect the sanctity of life and marriage and the freedom of religion, comments tailored beautifully to his scarlet-clad audience.
But Obama’s goals were no less ambitious. “I promise you, we can out-educate and out-compete any nation on Earth … Help give two million workers the chance to learn skills at their community college that will lead directly to a job. Help us work with colleges and universities to cut in half the growth of tuition costs over the next ten years. We can meet that goal together.”
Of course, we should be listening to and reading their remarks with the continuous reminder that the venue at which they spoke is not one where they have the luxury of being apologetic or soft. This is also not the time for hesitation, nine weeks before the elections.
It is only natural for the incumbent to point to his achievements and turn our focus to his goals, those concerning “education,” “women,” and the “middle class.” Likewise, it is only politics for the opposing candidate to highlight his own business experience and take issue with the shortcomings of the president and point to “unemployment,” “small business,” and [poor] “leadership.”
If you find you are having a hard time keeping your breakfast down while listening to the candidates talk of their own qualifications and each other’s short-sightedness, you are officially excused from the media for the next two months now that they have formally accepted their nominations.