The numbers are in and they're not pretty. The ultra-expensive and long-planned Democratic National Convention is underway in beautiful downtown Boston and apparently, television viewers couldn't care less. Don't misunderstand. This is not a political statement. Come September when the Republicans gather in New York, I fully expect interest in that national convention will be just as low.
So why the lack of interest?
Well, for starters, the conventions are boring. It's not like there is any suspense or in-fighting or back room politicin' going on. We all know the outcome. We're just not too interested in the coronations apparently.
Once you've viewed the flag-waving patriotism and what amounts to mass confusion and once you've heard the usual speeches, it's more an attitude of "been there, done that" and thus television viewers resort to reruns or anything else. The numbers from the Democrats thusfar would merit a cancellation on any network. But the conventions are here today and gone tomorrow so not too many folk are paying much attention.
The candidates - regardless of the party - have universally received a "bump" in the polls following a national convention. A week in the national spotlight usually is a positive catalyst and the candidates benefit from the national exposure.
But the general thinking in this modern era is that the candidates will receive little if any boost in the polls following the convention. With so few people actually watching it's hard to sway enough opinion to have much of an impact. That may change a bit when the candidate actually stands before the adoring throng and accepts (humbly) the party nomination. The primary process has eliminated the suspense and so why tune in when you know how the story is going to end.
This lack of interest in the conventions mirrors the general lack of interest in the political scene as a whole. When less than half of registered voters will cast their ballots in November, the process itself is in need of repair if not downright broken.
The two major parties can enlist all of the Hollywood names, the sports figures and the cultural elite they want. It still won't get people to spend much time watching the convention events unfold. Until there is the promise that the convention will actually plow new ground, television reruns will still find an audience.