September 10, 2012

Democratic Convention Highlights: Clinton Outshines Obama

But Obama's Speech Gets Better Marks than Romney's

Overview

Like Mitt Romney, Barack Obama was not the highlight of his party’s convention. Among those who watched at least a little coverage of the Democratic convention, 29% say the highlight was Bill Clinton’s speech, while 16% name Obama’s speech as the highlight. About as many (15%) say that first lady Michelle Obama’s speech was the highlight of the convention.

The latest survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, conducted Sept. 7-9, 2012 among 1,012 adults nationwide, finds that while Obama’s speech was not the highlight of the convention, it is evaluated more positively than Romney’s convention address. Six-in-ten (60%) of those who watched at least a little convention coverage rate Obama’s speech as excellent or good; that compares with 53% of GOP convention watchers who rated Romney’s speech positively.

However, Obama’s speech was not viewed nearly as positively as his address at the convention four years ago: 73% said that speech was excellent or good. In 2008, 42% of convention watchers rated Obama’s speech as excellent, compared with 29% who rate it that highly today.

While Obama’s speech was overshadowed by Clinton’s, Romney shared the spotlight with actor Clint Eastwood. About as many said Eastwood’s speech was the highlight of the GOP convention as mentioned Romney’s speech. (For more, see “RNC Highlights: Romney Shares Top Billing with Eastwood,” Sept. 5, 2012.)

Views of Obama: Before and After

Overall views of Obama, like opinions about Romney, have improved modestly in the wake of his party’s convention. In the new survey, 26% say their opinion of Obama has become more favorable in the past few days, while 20% say their opinion has become less favorable. Nearly half (48%) say their view of Obama has not changed.

In a survey conducted in late August, prior to the Charlotte convention, 16% said their opinion of Obama had become more favorable recently while 22% said it had become less favorable; 56% said it had not changed.

Recent opinions of Romney showed a similar positive shift after the GOP convention: The percentage saying they had come to have a more favorable view of Romney increased by seven points, from 18% before the Republican convention to 25% after it.

Overall, more Americans say they watched all or most of the Democratic convention than the Republican convention (22% vs. 17%); A third (33%) say they watched none of the coverage of the Democratic convention, compared with 40% who watched none of the coverage of the GOP convention.

Interest in this year’s Democratic convention is on par with interest in the party’s convention four years ago. In the 2008 post-convention survey, 22% said they watched all or most of the convention, the same percentage as in the current survey.

Among those who watched at least a little of the convention coverage, 60% rated Obama’s speech as excellent (29%) or good (31%), compared with 53% who viewed Romney’s speech as either excellent (21%) or good (32%).

Women, younger people and independents viewed Obama’s acceptance more positively than Romney’s. Among women who watched at least a little convention coverage, 62% said Obama’s speech was excellent or good, while 50% said the same about Romney’s speech. Fully 63% of those younger than 50 rated Obama’s speech positively, compared with 43% who said Romney’s speech was excellent or good.

And while partisans overwhelmingly view the speech of their nominee positively, more independents expressed positive opinions about Obama’s speech than Romney’s (57% vs. 46%).

Obama Overshadowed

Four years ago, Obama’s speech was the clear highlight of the Democratic party convention. Nearly four-in-ten (38%) of those who watched at least a little convention coverage said his speech was the highlight; Hillary Clinton’s speech was a distant second at 16%.

This year, however, Obama’s speech was overshadowed by Bill Clinton’s address: 29% say Clinton’s speech was the highlight, nearly twice the percentage citing Obama’s speech (16%).

More Democrats mentioned Clinton’s speech as the highlight than cited Obama’s address (36% vs. 24%). Independents also are more likely to say that Clinton’s speech was the convention highlight (29% vs. 15%).

Cite this publication: “Democratic Convention Highlights: Clinton Outshines Obama.” Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C. (September 10, 2012) http://www.people-press.org/2012/09/10/democratic-convention-highlights-clinton-outshines-obama/, accessed on July 23, 2014.