The so-called “rebound,” the bump, has happened. The Republican National Convention last week gave Donald J. Trump a handful of extra points in the polls. It seems that’s all he needed, according to Reuters-Ipsos, to reach a virtual tie with Hillary Clinton, who until now had always carried a strong lead over her rival. (Other polls show Trump with a firm lead.)
The media attention in recent days was entirely concentrated on the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, and, as usually happens at party conventions, the spotlight bumped the candidate in the polls. In 2012, for example, during the late-August convention in Tampa, Mitt Romney jumped five points, suggesting he would beat Obama. But that did not go well.
A legitimate question
Who knows what will happen this time? True. But in the first place, can we even trust the polls? That’s a legitimate question, especially considering that a convention can in fact “enhance” the numbers.
Figures aside, however, what happens in a convention should be taken very seriously, even when the show primarily concerns policy substance, understood as a programmatic platform and the celebration, after a fierce internal fight in the primaries, of an achievement. It’s a chance to build cohesion in the ranks of the party, looking forward the challenge in November when the Oval Office is at stake, alongside hundreds of seats in the House, Senate and local offices. Conventions work best when the party rallies behind a candidate who can unite the party with a well-aligned vice presidential nominee.