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The Romney campaign is telling reporters that they are so going to rock the convention.

Incumbent presidents get seven-point bump from convention
Challengers get 11-point bump from convention
Given that Pres. Barack Obama currently leads the polling composite by six points, let's do the math:

Obama 6 minus Romney 11 = Romney +5
Romney 5 minus Obama 7 = Obama +2

So even with their loftiest of expectations, they've still got Obama ahead in the end.

But that doesn't even address the Romney campaign's biggest problem—their candidate is the most unpopular Republican to have run in modern history (in other words, since they started polling this stuff). And given the partisan polarization of our country, attitudes are more hardened, and have hardened sooner. Look at this trendline from the 1980 race that I posted yesterday:

Trendlines of Reagan-Carter polling in 1980
If you add up the two trendlines, you'll find that about 30 percent of respondents were undecided late into the cycle. That number is about 7 percent today. Presidential candidates today simply don't have that much room to move. Let's go back to 2008:
2008 trendlines showing convention bumps for Obama and McCain
The number of undecideds pre-convention was just 14-ish points. And while we saw real convention bounces, they were modest at best. Obama got roughly a four-point bump. McCain got a little over a five-point bump.

Given that we have half the undecideds today than we had four years ago, I would expect even smaller post-convention bounces.

And that's not even considering Romney's lack of compelling personal story. McCain could lean on his war record. So could Bob Dole and George H. W. Bush. Dubya at least had personality, however repulsive it might've been to us. Ronald Reagan was incredibly charismatic.

What's Romney got to sell? What part of his personal history is compelling outside of bully circles? And with the media on the hunt for disgruntled social conservatives and Paulites, how can he sell a mainstream message of inclusion?

The Romney campaign knows it is losing. It is acknowledging as much with these appeals to history (not just this convention one, but the claims that his campaign will be just like Reagan's 1980 campaign). The problem is, this is a different time, with a dramatically altered political (and media) landscape. And Mitt Romney is a far worse candidate than any of the other men his party have nominated. Worse even than Bob Dole.

Originally posted to kos on Fri Aug 10, 2012 at 02:06 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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