Matt Towery

Democrats were scratching their heads and trying to figure how it was that Republican presidential nominee John McCain had inched further up in the polls during this, of all things, the week of the Democratic National Convention in Denver. But the only real mystery is why they were so mystified.

The Democrats' first misstep came on the first night of the proceedings, when they staged a disjointed and misguided salute to the party's most liberal wing.

It's always heartbreaking to see anybody suffering from cancer; in this case, Democratic icon U.S. Sen. Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, who spoke to an adoring convention crowd. And yet it's Kennedy who typifies to many swing voters the very "limousine liberal" wing of the party that has for so long repelled voters from throwing in with the Dems.

The introduction of Kennedy by his famous niece Caroline Kennedy didn't help matters. She has no significant political experience, as was evidenced when the steering committee that she chaired steered Sen. Joe Biden, a Kennedy crony, onto the presidential ticket as Barack Obama's running mate.

Next came Michelle Obama's speech. She looked svelte and sounded smart. Yet her appearance came across as overly staged, and kept alive lingering doubts among some voters as to her true feelings towards those who don't march in liberal lockstep with her.

The fact is that the Democrats on Monday night didn't offer to America a coherent message that was palatable and digestible.

Nor did they on Tuesday, which only left the country wondering: Why did Obama pick another northeastern liberal male as his running mate when he could have chosen Hillary Clinton? She absolutely blew the convention hall away with a speech that had power and -- surprise! -- a discussion of meaty issues.

Now Obama has "a third running mate," whether he wants her or not. Sen. Clinton has more charisma and substance in her little finger than Biden has in his entire body.

Now we know why the Obama team decided to move their candidate's nomination acceptance speech to a giant stadium filled with tens of thousands of screaming fans. Having to follow Hillary and Bill Clinton in the same venue in which they appeared might lead to apple-to-apple comparisons that could leave Obama's fruit looking bruised.

Instead of all this, the Democrats should have been reassuring moderate voters that they will be safe this November if they abandon their recent past habit of voting for the Republican nominees for president because the Democrats' pie-in-the-sky solutions are too flighty and unrealistic.

Matt Towery

Matt Towery is a pollster, attorney, businessman and former elected official. He served as campaign strategist for Congressional, Senate, and gubernatorial campaigns. His latest book is Newsvesting: Use News and Opinion to Grow Your Personal Wealth. Follow him on Twitter @MattTowery