DNC by the numbers

I have a bit of an embarrassing confession to make. I subscribe to an unhealthy amount of polling information via email and RSS. Polling companies in Canada and the US send me daily information on a number of topics, whether it’s the horse-race of McCain-Obama, the demographic breakdowns of perceptions on the US economy, or Canadian attitudes towards arctic development (and those are just from today)

I’ve been watching the Democratic National Convention with some interest over the past couple of days. If you’ve been following my twitter feed, you might have seen some of my live reactions to speeches by Michelle Obama, Mike Schweitzer or Hillary Clinton. The data from day 2 has just hit my inbox and newsreader and the numbers provide a look at the success/failure of the stage-managed political super-rally in Denver, Colorado.

In a comparison of keynotes of Michelle Obama vs. Hillary Clinton (though Clinton’s wasn’t technically a keynote), Nielson polling data shows that the NY Senator beat Mrs. Obama with 26 million viewers vs. 22.3 million. Further, in ratings, African-Americans are watching the DNC in larger proportions than white viewers. Black viewers were 1.4 times as likely to be watching the DNC than the population as a whole. This year at the DNC, African-Americans make up a record of 24% of all delegates. US Census records from 2000 show a 12.9% African-American population in the US. Though the Democrats reserve delegate spots for racial minorities and women, the television ratings suggest unprecedented high political engagement and interest among African-American electors. Higher voter turnouts reflect healthy democracies and it is exciting to watch the American contest unfold this year.

Comparing the second days of the 2004 and 2008 DNC conventions, the 2008 convention had five times the television viewers. This is particularly important for Hillary Clinton as she’ll likely be running for President in 2012 if Obama fails to get enough votes in November.  She still remains quite popular among Democrats with an 80% approval rating.

Comments

comments

  • Gabby in QC

    As a good conservative, perhaps I shouldn't reveal this either: watching and listening to Ms. Clinton's impassioned and well-structured speech, I figure the Dems lost out on an opportunity to get America back on track by not choosing her as their presidential candidate – not because she's a woman, but because she's an experienced politician.

    Mr. Obama may have wonderful oratorical skills, but his lack of experience worries me, if he is to lead the world's (now in decline) superpower.

    The addition of Joe Biden to the ticket doesn't allay my fears, either. It's unfair to judge a politician on looks but … this guy looks like the typical snake in the grass who'll hiss anything he thinks you want to hear, and then turn around and bite you.

    I also found the pundits commenting after Ms. Clinton's speech put our own to shame. They were able to quote entire sentences from the speech to illustrate their points, and despite their political leaning, they seemed pretty fair in their assessments. (I watched it on PBS)

    I imagine some of our pundits sitting around after a Canadian's speech making comments like “Yeah, it was a good enough speech … but when's the next election??
    Do you think that the electorate will show up for the election?
    Won't the election take place sooner rather than right now, as in immediately?
    Yes, of course, an election would clear the air. But when will the next one be? …”

  • http://www.stephentaylor.ca stephentaylor

    You can be a US politics geek and be a good Canadian conservative! The Democrats are putting on a good show.

    As for the quality of US pundits, every single media representative there receives an embargoed copy of the speech, often hours ahead of time. When McCain spoke in Ottawa, I had his speech about 2 hours ahead of time. This is why you'll often see titles during network coverage of a live speech appear as each point is made. In Canada, info is handed out under embargo before hand but sometimes pundits are left in the dark!

    BTW, leaking of an embargoed speech will cut off all access for a journalist (and even network) depending on the severity.

  • Gabby in QC

    ” … every single media representative there receives an embargoed copy of the speech …”

    Oh! I did not know that. So I guess I don't deserve the designation of “US politics geek.”
    To be honest, I don't follow American politics that closely.

    I guess Ms. Clinton used teleprompters, but her speech was so good, IMO, and flowed so naturally, with such good delivery, with just the right pauses and appeals to emotion without being too maudlin – anyway, I don't understand why some people hate her so much.

    Some other people who also gave good speeches were of course Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson's son, and the Gov. of Mass. Deval Patrick.

  • Gabby in QC

    Where are our wordsmiths? People who can come up with phrases such as (maybe not exactly verbatim) those spoken by that rogue Bill Clinton: “America needs to lead by the power of its example, not the example of its power.”

  • batb

    Gaby in QC: “Where are our wordsmiths?”

    They've all gone to the U.S.!

    It seems to be borne out–if the aggregation of the top 25 political blogs in Canada is to be trusted (http://rjjago.wordpress.com/2008/08/02/canadas-… the best writers are on the right, and we've got David Frum living and writing in the U.S., along with his very articulate wife, Danielle Crittendon to name only two.

    Who else? The cream isn't allowed to rise to the top here in Canada–exceptions being our Blogging Tories, of course!–so it has to overflow to somewhere else. If you're articulate and you're on the right, you don't seem to get a shot at glory when it comes to oratory. Canadians have been brought up on a lot of lib-left, cliched schlock, aided and abetted by our lacklustre and biased MSM.

    Wordsmiths aren't wanted on the voyage in Canukistan!

  • Gabby in QC

    Batb, the link you provided unfortunately gave me this message “Error 404 – Not Found”

    Hmm, I’m not so sure about David Frum. His “axis of evil” may not have been one of the choicest.
    Maybe Brian Mulroney’s former speech writer, L. Ian Macdonald, would possibly qualify. As a matter of fact, his column today speaks to that very thing: “Words matter in political speeches” http://www.canada.com/montrealgazette/columnist

    I know Barack Obama’s inspirational speeches are viewed as merely empty words on most conservative blogs. When I learned that at least two of his speeches had been “borrowed” from other speakers, I told myself, hmm, what a fraud.

    And yet … he seems to be filling a need. There seems to be a hunger out there for aiming higher, aspiring to something other than putting one’s opponent down. To be in constant attack mode is questionable, IMO. And using well-crafted memorable phrases, expressing lofty and authentic ideals, cannot but help resonate with one's audience.

  • batb

    Gabby, I'm not sure why the full link didn't appear in my comment, as I embedded the full link . So, here it is:

    http://rjjago.wordpress.com/2008/08/02/canadas-

    We need lofty words to express lofty–and genuine–ideas and sentiments. Especially in this whatever-throwaway world, where the frantic pace of our lives seems to mitigate against informative narrative, continuity, and followup. We need our sights lifted higher, something which a well-crafted and articulate speech has the tendency to do.

    I've appreciated the speeches at the DNC, even though I haven't always agreed with their content! (Barack Obama's oratory is a little bit short on substance and long on cliched rhetoric.) I've appreciated their passion and their obvious love of and concern for their country and the direction in which it's headed.

    As for David Frum's “axis of evil,” I think he was onto something! Whether or not one agrees with his views, he's certainly an informed and articulate writer. Canada's got to get over its shrinking from excellence and driving its talented citizens either underground or to other countries, notably the U.S.

  • Gabby in QC

    Batb, thanks for the link. It worked fine this time.

    Perhaps I should have specified 'speechwriters writing for politicians' when I lamented the absence of 'wordsmiths.'

    You see, blogs deal in a different kind of language. The aim of many political blogs is essentially to destroy the opposition – sad to say, but essentially true. The language is primarily one of the putdown, overkill, exaggeration – short on facts and long on partisan POV.
    I include myself in that number; I too have been and will continue to be critical of any argument I disagree with. Where I hope I differ is in the use of condescension, or worse, insults when presenting an argument.

    That kind of 'muscular' testosterone-filled language has its value to a point, but there comes a time when negativity has to give way to positive messages of shared values, man's capacity to face and solve the challenges before us, the solid foundations on which our society is based, a sense of 'let's roll up our sleeves' to work at something, etc.

    We NEED to be reminded of all that once in a while. And a good speechwriter like Ted Sorensen, or whoever wrote both Clintons' speech, can articulate those thoughts in clear crisp sentences that will remain with members of the audience – like the proverbial earworm.

  • batb

    Yes, I agree with you, Gabby, about our need to hear positive, inspiring, encouraging oratory from our leaders. We don't do it anywhere near as well as the Americans.

    Would that have anything to do with
    * Canadians' lower expectations?
    * our five-party system–and extremely partisan ones at that–which have kept one party in power too long, often coming up the middle and, therefore, not really “winning”?
    * our extremely partisan, lib-left MSM with very little commentary from the other perspectives?
    * with Canadians' apathy and quiescence as opposed to the Americans' gung-ho, let's-get-it-on, relish at political debate?
    * a dearth of real “leaders” in Canada? What we usually get stuck with is the leader of the Liberal, NDP, Bloc, or Green Party pack rather than a statesman or woman. I didn't include the CPC in this list, as I think in Stephen Harper, the Party actually has a leader, a statesman

  • Gabby in QC

    All of the above ;-)

    But I would add another one: Canadians' propensity for defining themselves as what they're NOT (not an American).
    We Canadians have to learn to tell our own story, not in comparison to others' achievements, but because of our own home grown or imported talents who want to contribute to that narrative.

    Let's see what Mr. Obama has to say tonight

  • batb

    Great point, Gabby.

    Canadians absolutely need to learn to own our stories, our heritage, without reference to another country–either the U.S. of A. or Great Britain. We need a lot of practice–and a lot of help.

    Which means, that we need to actually teach Canadian history in our schools, not the revisionist pap most schools dole out to their students. That's been a big problem: Most Canadians have next to no idea of who we are or what our historical legacy is.

    You can't turn this pattern of ignorance around over night. I wonder how it is that Canadians are going to begin to reclaim their story. What's it going to take?

    Obama's on in a few hours. I wonder if he's really going to rise up out of the floor?

  • Gabby in QC

    For the sake of America, which I love as a cousin, and for the sake of the western world she leads, I wish both candidates well.

    “… we need to actually teach Canadian history in our schools …”
    I agree; the story told should be a national story, woven with the stories of the different heroes and heroines who have helped build this country.

    “What's it going to take?” I wish I had an answer/solution.

  • Gabby in QC

    Batb, thanks for the link. It worked fine this time.

    Perhaps I should have specified 'speechwriters writing for politicians' when I lamented the absence of 'wordsmiths.'

    You see, blogs deal in a different kind of language. The aim of many political blogs is essentially to destroy the opposition – sad to say, but essentially true. The language is primarily one of the putdown, overkill, exaggeration – short on facts and long on partisan POV.
    I include myself in that number; I too have been and will continue to be critical of any argument I disagree with. Where I hope I differ is in the use of condescension, or worse, insults when presenting an argument.

    That kind of 'muscular' testosterone-filled language has its value to a point, but there comes a time when negativity has to give way to positive messages of shared values, man's capacity to face and solve the challenges before us, the solid foundations on which our society is based, a sense of 'let's roll up our sleeves' to work at something, etc.

    We NEED to be reminded of all that once in a while. And a good speechwriter like Ted Sorensen, or whoever wrote both Clintons' speech, can articulate those thoughts in clear crisp sentences that will remain with members of the audience – like the proverbial earworm.

  • batb

    Yes, I agree with you, Gabby, about our need to hear positive, inspiring, encouraging oratory from our leaders. We don't do it anywhere near as well as the Americans.

    Would that have anything to do with
    * Canadians' lower expectations?
    * our five-party system–and extremely partisan ones at that–which have kept one party in power too long, often coming up the middle and, therefore, not really “winning”?
    * our extremely partisan, lib-left MSM with very little commentary from the other perspectives?
    * with Canadians' apathy and quiescence as opposed to the Americans' gung-ho, let's-get-it-on, relish at political debate?
    * a dearth of real “leaders” in Canada? What we usually get stuck with is the leader of the Liberal, NDP, Bloc, or Green Party pack rather than a statesman or woman. I didn't include the CPC in this list, as I think in Stephen Harper, the Party actually has a leader, a statesman

  • Gabby in QC

    All of the above ;-)

    But I would add another one: Canadians' propensity for defining themselves as what they're NOT (not an American).
    We Canadians have to learn to tell our own story, not in comparison to others' achievements, but because of our own home grown or imported talents who want to contribute to that narrative.

    Let's see what Mr. Obama has to say tonight

  • batb

    Great point, Gabby.

    Canadians absolutely need to learn to own our stories, our heritage, without reference to another country–either the U.S. of A. or Great Britain. We need a lot of practice–and a lot of help.

    Which means, that we need to actually teach Canadian history in our schools, not the revisionist pap most schools dole out to their students. That's been a big problem: Most Canadians have next to no idea of who we are or what our historical legacy is.

    You can't turn this pattern of ignorance around over night. I wonder how it is that Canadians are going to begin to reclaim their story. What's it going to take?

    Obama's on in a few hours. I wonder if he's really going to rise up out of the floor?

  • Gabby in QC

    For the sake of America, which I love as a cousin, and for the sake of the western world she leads, I wish both candidates well.

    “… we need to actually teach Canadian history in our schools …”
    I agree; the story told should be a national story, woven with the stories of the different heroes and heroines who have helped build this country.

    “What's it going to take?” I wish I had an answer/solution.