President Obama's much touted "convention bump" has been the subject of media speculation and, in some cases, celebration. Even given the generally less-than-reliable sample sizes for some polls, many news organizations are wondering whether it is time to celebrate the premature death of the Mitt Romney campaign. The hysteria has arguably even penetrated the Republican strategic class, who are frantically armchair quarterbacking ways to get Romney out of the supposed polling hole generated by the Democrats' presumptively superior convention.
It's not difficult to see why - the conventions are an easy explanation for the poll boost. But what if they're not actually the causal factor? That's the finding of a new study out today by the Wesleyan Media Project in Middletown, Conn., which shows that, far from being the result of a superior convention, the current "bounce" that Obama is enjoying may simply be due to overwhelming amounts of pro-Obama spending. From the organization's press release announcing the results:
Although the Romney campaign has (until recently) dominated the money race, the Obama campaign dominated the broadcast airwaves in the two weeks during the presidential conventions.
As Table 1 shows, during the August 26 to September 8 period, Obama and his allies aired 40,000 ads on broadcast and national cable television, the vast majority of which were paid for by the Obama campaign. By comparison, Romney and his allies aired 18,000 ads on broadcast and national cable television during that same time period.
Table 1: Ad Airings by Sponsor in Past Two Weeks
Americans For Prosperity
Priorities USA Action
Restore Our Future
DNC & Barack Obama
RNC & Mitt Romney
Susan B. Anthony List
*Totals are from August 26 through September 8. Numbers include broadcast television and national cable spots.CITE SOURCE OF DATA AS: Kantar Media/CMAG with analysis by the Wesleyan Media Project
“In the past couple of weeks, Obama advertising has outpaced Romney advertising by more than a two to one margin,” said Erika Franklin Fowler, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project. “During both the Democratic and Republican conventions, pro-Obama advertisers dominated the airwaves in numerous markets, including key swing states such as Colorado, Ohio, Nevada, and Virginia. This advantage may help to explain why Obama’s ‘convention bounce’ was larger than Romney’s.”
If Fowler is correct, and this is the cause for Obama's bump, it's unlikely to persist as a statistical phenomenon. The Romney campaign easily has more cash on hand than the Obama campaign, despite the Obama campaign narrowly out-fundraising them this past month. The Wesleyan results suggest that the Romney campaign's methodical willingness to wait to spend its money could pay big dividends once the Obama campaign runs out of cash.
In fact, the bump appears to be dying already. Rasmussen Reports' Daily Tracking Poll on the Presidential race today indicates that the President leads Romney by only a single point.