Michael Barone

They were fretting over the broadcast networks' decision not to broadcast Monday's night session and rescheduled Ann Romney's speech from Tuesday even before the hurricane threat scotched Monday night altogether.

There will be testimony Thursday night from witnesses of Romney's work in his church and at the Salt Lake City Olympics. And of course the acceptance speech from Romney himself.

But as uberblogger Mickey Kaus suggests, lightly committed voters may not be as interested as they were a decade or two ago in having a president they are comfortable watching five nights a week on television.

That's because fewer people are watching TV so regularly. The folks at Targeted Victory, a firm doing microtargeting for Romney and Republicans, told me they teamed with a Democratic firm to conduct surveys of TV viewing in two ultra target states, Ohio and Florida.

They found that 31 percent of respondents no longer watch live TV at all, except for sports events. They watch cable or satellite, or use TiVo or Hulu to watch movies with commercials. News audiences seem tilted to older voters, who tend to have strongly held preferences.

So it's not clear how many people will be watching Romney. Convention ratings were pretty good in 2008, but a recent survey shows less interest.

In any case, the Romney people seem confident that he can meet the threshold test of likability and, more important, that the differences between Romney and Obama over issues and over their basic attitudes toward America worked to the Republicans' advantage.

There's lots of evidence to support this second proposition. Voters are most concerned about the related issues of the economy and the size of government. They are discontented with the status quo.

In 1988, it was the other way around: Voters were basically content. Bush offered more of the same and won.

This year, people want something different. Romney offers that. Obama offers more of the same. Emphasizing that contrast, the Romney people believe, is a winner.


Michael Barone

Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2011 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER. DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM