Late Convention Helps McCain

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Aug 30, 2008 12:23 PM


On June 21 of this year, I offered some unsolicited "Veep advice to McCain."  Here's an excerpt:
1.  Make Obama pick first.  The Democratic convention (August 25-28) is before the GOP convention (September 1-4), so why not make Obama go first?  Surely, Obama's pick could impact your decision, after all.  For example, if Obama does not pick a lady, you might decide to do so.  This would potentially help undermine Obama's "change" rationale.  On the other hand, if Obama does pick a woman, your team might seek to capitalize on the idea that this would be "too much change" at once ...
While some were urging McCain to choose first, I'm glad he saw things my way.

Clearly, McCain has benefited tremendously from having the later convention.  First, he had an extra week for which to spend primary dollars (before he is forced to accept public financing), second -- as I noted -- it gave him time to make a more strategic veep pick (the fact that Palin's pick had a strategic component does not in any way diminish the fact that she was a great pick). 

But -- perhaps as important as all the rest -- having the GOP convention go last means he will go into the three-week period between the conventions and the debates -- on the up-swing.

Can you imagine if the last thing voters heard before the debates was Obama's speech?  Instead, it's hard to even remember Obama's speech.  In short, timing is everything in politics, and it's hard to put a value on the importance of getting the last convention.

However, it is possible the timing could also backfire.  The one thing that could make McCain wish the GOP convention had gone first is the possibility of a hurricane slamming into New Orleans.  That, of course, is out of McCain's control...