Barack is now the nominee, Hillary is on board, Bill is kicking into gear and Joe is taking names. The Democrats’ convention is eventful, but who is watching it all go down?
Over twenty million people a night — and the numbers are rising. In fact, on the second night of the convention, the Dems quintupled their draw compared to 2004. Five times the voters ain’t bad.
This Tuesday drew 26 million viewers, while only about five million people tuned in on the same day in 2004. That’s partly because no networks covered Kerry’s second day in Boston. This year, in contrast, there is huge interest in the entire convention, and especially in Sen. Clinton’s address on Day Two.
About nine percent of the U.S. population is checking into convention coverage, according to Nielsen. The share is higher among African Americans — about 12.7 percent are tuning in to see the first nomination of a black candidate by a major party in American history. Divided by age, the audience for this convention skews towards older Americans. One out of five Americans over age 55 caught some convention programming. (I asked Nielsen if there is any spike in youth interest compared to 2004, but a spokesman said the 2004 age demographics are not available.)
Sitting here in the hall press box, it’s hard to have any feel for how most Americans are experiencing the convention. The politicians and pundits are all around, but they’re hard to hear. Sen. Evan Bayh, the only neoconservative to make Obama’s VP shortlist, is talking now, but the din of the crowd is drowning out his address. Out of the several dozen reporters near The Nation aisle, few look like they’re listening. My colleagues Patricia Williams and Ari Berman are both reading, some grizzled newspaper reporters hit the phones, and a long line snakes behind the section for reporters waiting for floor credentials to get close to Biden’s speech.
As Tom Daschle serves up a stern lecture, the delegates are buzzing with preparation for the bigger speeches of the night. Obama operatives clad in bright green vests run from the boiler room with signs, flags and other Americana for delegates to wave during the next speeches. Daschle’s address is about as staid as his striped gray tie, but people seem excited anyway.