The headline speakers last night in Charlotte were a mayor nobody has heard of and First Lady Michelle Obama. Last night and this morning, the media are tripping over each other to heap praise on Mrs. Obama’s speech, which was mostly a rehash of her speech in 2008, albeit with newly remembered money struggles. She gave a strong performance, but, unfortunately for the Democrats, not many people saw it. Overall, the speech attracted around 11 million viewers on the three broadcast networks. That’s about 400,000 fewer viewers than watched Ann Romney’s speech. But, the really bad news for Obama is the massive drop in viewers from 2008.
NBC won the coverage, as it did for the RNC last week. But, its viewership was down 24% from ’08. For its RNC coverage on the first night, viewership was actually 8% higher than ’08. CBS and ABC have even starker declines, dropping 45% and 38% respectively, compared to ’08. Their coverage of the RNC was down also, but a more modest 25% and 38% from ’08.
Obviously, people don’t only view these events on the three broadcast networks. There is C-SPAN, and a number of cable news stations also carry the speeches. Still, the apples-to-apples comparison is striking. So, on the three broadcast networks, the RNC had more viewers. This, mind you, is before counting the viewers who watched on Fox News.
Of course, close observers of the political race shouldn’t be surprised. The Democrats have been facing a very significant enthusiasm gap among their voters. Obama’s rallies take place in venues far smaller than those in 2008. This morning, the Dems even cancelled their plans for another big-stadium Obama speech to close out the convention. Of course, they cite the 30% chance of rain in the forecast as the reason for the move to a much smaller venue. It’s a convenient excuse, since there had been reports organizers were struggling to fill the stadium.
2012 really is shaping up as the year of the Democrat downgrade.