It didn’t end up being much of a contest at all. One was full of substance, spectacle, stirring speeches and some truly impassioned moments; the other turned out to be a low-rated (it got beat by that abhorrent Honey Boo Boo show, of all things http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/entertainment/2012/08/honey-boo-boos-ratings-beat-out-the-rncs/) sideshow most notable for having the star of Every Which Way But Loose having a nonsensical, sub-SNL skit with an inanimate object (http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/03/opinion/avlon-politics-empty-chair/index.html).
The contrast is staggering. While the RNC will be best remembered for Eastwood’s dumbfounding stage act, the DNC was full of YouTube-ready moments that actually make its party look good. Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday night earned raves (http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/04/politics/michelle-obama-speech/index.html), minutes after the party anointed its next rising star with San Antonio mayor Julian Castro’s superb appearance (http://newyork.newsday.com/news/nation/julian-castro-speech-at-democratic-national-convention-draws-obama-comparisons-1.3954288). Castro’s speech, in particular, was about as different as Chris Christie’s look-at-me 2016 plea from the week before(http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/29/christie-christie-speech-rnc_n_1838448.html) as you could get.
It was Wednesday, though, that really brought the hammer down for the Democrats – wielded and swung in smooth Southern style by William Jefferson Clinton. In a masterful, mostly off-the-cuff 50-minute takedown of the Republican platform / second-term Obama endorsement, Clinton sent the crowd into a frenzy and set social media on fire (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/she-the-people/post/bill-clintons-electrifying-speech-and-the-publics-reaction-prove-his-rock-star-status/2012/09/06/59eca024-f841-11e1-a93b-7185e3f88849_blog.html). It was an astonishing performance, and it underscored a significant problem for the Republicans – they simply don’t have anyone that could match Clinton’s stature with voters. There’s no way they could trot out George W. Bush to give a speech like that. Capped off by a rousing speech by Joe Biden and a solid (if unspectacular) performance from Obama on Thursday, the convention gave all its delegates – and supporters – reason to cheer.
This convention didn’t clinch the election for the Democrats, not by a long shot. However, it blunted whatever mediocre bump the Republicans got from their convention (http://www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2012/sep/4/poll-romney-did-not-get-post-convention-bump/) and delivered a clear, well-run message that was in stark contrast to the circus the Republicans trotted out. Chalk the battle of the conventions up as a win for the blue.