Wednesday, September 5, 2012

How the conventions can make a difference

The overnight ratings show that the DNC opening night exceeded the RNC's opening by about one million viewers. 

Conventions make a big difference in giving each party a "bounce" with voters.  The three major broadcasting networks and the three large cable news networks along with many smaller TV networks set aside at least an hour in prime time during the conventions for three or four days.

Just think of one day of commercial-free prime time advertising.  The costs can range from about $50,000 to $450,000 for a 30-second commercial.   If we consider that the conventions get high viewership and calculate an average of $150,000 for each 30 second segment on one of the broadcasting networks, then a full hour on one station would cost $18,000,000.

On all three networks, that would add up to $54,000,000 a night and $162,000,000 for all three days and that's just for the broadcast stations.  The cable news networks have smaller audiences but they provide many more hours of coverage.

For this reason, presidential campaigns usually get a big bump after their conventions.  The fact that Mitt Romney's bounce has been so small reinforces the idea that Republican messaging is not effective in turning public opinion against him.

We will see not long after President Obama gives his acceptance speech on Thursday whether the Democratic message can create a more substantial momentum for Democrats.

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