Spinning the Zero Bounce

The GOP Convention had everything: Empty chairs, empty suits, but no bounce

Let’s speak about The Bounce, shall we? The Bounce being the jump that a three-day, red-white-and-blue infomercial is expected to produce on a candidate’s polling. The idea is to use The Bounce as a slingshot of momentum to whip you down the campaign straightaway directly into the swivel seat behind the desk of the Oval Office. Or close enough to let the Supreme Court appoint you. One or the other.

What usually happens, after both conventions have drop-kicked their last balloon, is an equilibrium is struck. One side goes up four to six points, then the other side goes up four to six points and you’re pretty much back to where you started. The Bounce evens out. Not very exciting. Like sugar-free cookies. Or kissing Andrea Mitchell. Knocking back a shot of non-alcoholic wine. Otherwise known as grape juice.

This time around, the net result of two weeks in the Southeast in the dead of summer is President Barack Obama got a cumulative bump of between 3 and 5 points. Hard to say which event was more responsible for his ascension: his own Democratic National Convention, the Republican National Convention or Hurricane Akin.

Gov. Mitt Romney got the same kind of Bounce you’d expect from an anvil dropped onto a swamp. Even his own staff called it “not large.” Yeah. Not large being a euphemism for non-existent. It was not large in the same way that August in Charlotte does not feature a cluster of destination luge runs. Similar to how Kim Kardashian is not a Nobel Prize-winning nuclear physicist. Banana fritters aren’t magnetic. An echoing abyss of whistling emptiness.

Some polls actually suggested the GOP ticket received less than Zero Bounce from their convention. Less than zero. On the wrong side of the ledger. Red ink. A negative Bounce; which could be referred to as a Plunge. Might need to christen a new buzzword: the Convention Dip. But that would involve stripping Chris Christie of his own personal Tampa catalogue description.

When a campaign finds itself Sans Bounce, it’s important to replace it with The Spin. As Republicans are feverishly attempting this year. Spinning like an aging hippie in a peasant dress, stage left at a Grateful Dead tribute-band concert. Twirling left. Spinning right. Spinning righter. Pay no attention to that man behind the fact-checking curtain.

The Spin should be fluid and flexible and is not required to be rooted in the real world. Its only purpose is to distract. “The Not So Large of a Bounce was due to Mr. Romney having already consolidated his base.” “The Governor doesn’t really need a Bounce because of the spring in his step.” “All The Bounce this candidate needs can be found in his hair.”

Not only do the Bounceless have to convince supporters and the base and most especially prospective donors that the candidate still has a shot, it is incumbent to also soft pedal and ridicule the other guy’s visible Bounce. Phantom bounce.

Romney’s pollster Neil Newhouse called the Obama Bounce “a sugar high.” That may be so, but you got to remember, in tough times like these, a lot of we normal Americans got ourselves a heavy hankering for anything sweet. Even one of those sugar-free cookies.

Will Durst
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