TAMPA, Fla. – The convention bounce is the stuff of political dreams.
Buoyed by the love of fellow partisans, lofted by eager anticipation, swaddled and coddled — when was the last time anyone actually asked a tough question of a candidate at their convention, much less had the chance? — the presidential nominee soars heavenward on the wings of celebration.
Then settles back to Earth.
It is not unusual for a candidate to surge in polls in the days after their big party bash. Gallup, which conducts the granddaddy of political opinion surveys, reports that going back to 1964 the average "bounce" yields a 5-percentage point gain in the polls.
That makes sense.
Imagine a jury trial, in which the prosecution presents its case, followed by the defense. The two political conventions function in much the same way. The out-party goes first, offering all the awful things the incumbent administration has done as proof of why the country can't possibly survive another four years with that kind of ineptitude in the White House. With that argument fresh in their minds, some loosely moored (politically) or otherwise persuadable voters tip toward the challenger.
Then the party holding the presidency responds and those persuadable voters move back to the undecided column, or even drift to support the incumbent.