Verdict is in: Obama speech a flop - even with Democrats
Politico is blaming this on Obama's strict adherence to the "politics of 2012" -- "a race that has been defined by relentless, almost mechanical efforts to motivate voters with narrow appeals to specific constituencies and to destroy the opposition as a credible alternative."
Such may be the case, especially since for the first time in 30 years, a sitting president had absolutely no case to make for his own re-election. Even rhetorically (forget the delivery) the speech fell flat. It was like giving a sports report and not mentioning the scores.
Many on the left were more than disappointed:
According to the pool report, the official said the campaign conducted research on the various speeches "and I think the American people responded very well to the president's speech."
"They first of all found it to be optimistic, they found it to be credible in terms of his ideas and goals that would help the economy," said the Obama adviser, adding that their research indicated positive reaction on Obama's discussion of foreign policy.
The reaction among even many progressive commentators was less effusive.
"Let's be blunt. Barack Obama gave a dull and pedestrian speech tonight, with nary an interesting thematic device, policy detail, or even one turn of phrase," wrote Michael Tomasky, the editor of the progressive journal Democracy, at The Daily Beast, in a line that was representative of other commentary.
James Carville, who wanted something bolder, was disappointed. "Certainly not the best speech of this convention," Carville tweeted minutes after Obama left the podium with wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia.
The speech "got the job done. But I didn't feel any real passion in the delivery. It felt more like an actor soldiering through his lines," wrote Kevin Drum at Mother Jones. "There was nothing memorable, nothing forward looking, and nothing that drew a contrast with Romney in sharp, gut-level strokes. Obama was, to be charitable, no more than the third best of the Democratic convention's prime time speakers in 2012."
"Safe speech," one underwhelmed Democratic strategist told POLITICO. "It's kind of like you ask someone out on a date, and [at the end] they say, 'Oh, he's nice.'"
I've said this before but it is worth repeating: Barack Obama doesn't care about convincing anyone that he deserves a second term. What he cares about is driving every last supporter of his to the polls in key swing states. By slicing and dicing the electorate into constutencies -- women, Hispanics, the young, blacks -- and then beating the bushes until they are all flushed out and headed to the voting both, Obama believes he can win despite the bad economy.
It's actually much like the Rove/Bush strategy of 2004 where turnout of evangelical and "very conservative" Republicans was the goal. This time, Obama has far more cash to spend and a much larger organization to make it work.
There may be less enthusiasm for the president among these groups than there was in 2008. But being able to identify his supporters is half the battle in getting them to vote, and by election day, the Obama campaign will have a very good idea of who they are and have ways to get them to the polls.