Thursday, July 31, 2008

VP Announcement Timing

This is where I set myself up to get killed. However, I'll wade once again into the VP speculation maelstrom to make a few comments about what is currently happening. For the record, I've moved beyond the "who" of the veepstakes at this point. Sure, it's consequential, but in my mind the timing issue is much more fascinating right now...if only because all the possibilities have been talked to death. I don't want to totally rehash my post from last week, but I do want to reprise it.

What do we know?
1) The VP decisions are on the horizon.

2) Obama is expected to be the first to move since the Democrats hold their convention first (However, FHQ should note that this hasn't been a year for following traditions in presidential politics.).

3) There is now a week until the Olympics kick off a four week smorgasbord of sport and politics (two weeks of each and in that order).

4) The pundits know, or think they know, that the prospective VP lists are shrinking and who is supposedly on them.

Now let's delve into far murkier territory...
What does my gut tell me about when these announcements will be made?

1) All the talk from the Obama camp about the decision being weeks away is a hoax. I don't buy that, but it is clever of them, not to mention convenient to say the trip abroad delayed those efforts. I still feel like the decision will be made prior to the Olympics and that means next week.

2) Well, it won't be on a Friday (or over the weekend). Friday is a day to release your medical records or some other news you'd like buried. That eliminates tomorrow and next Friday. Next Friday is out anyway because that's when the Olympics begin.

3) An announcement won't be made late in the work week next week. [Define late, FHQ.] By late I mean after Tuesday. The goal of a VP announcement is to time it in a way that maximizes the free air time you get out of it. The earlier in the week the better then. I would add the caveat that they wouldn't want to announce too early lest there be a backlash of some variety. However, the Olympics will be there to wrest attention away at the end of the week anyway.

All this has assumed that Obama will be the one to go first. And for him to maximize the attention coming out of that announcement (not to mention put McCain in a tough position -- having to potentially announce during the games), making the move Monday or Tuesday of next week would probably suffice. And hey, you know what? Monday happens to be Obama's birthday. [Well, you lost all] credibility there.] Before you dismiss that notion, it should be pointed out that the Democrats are big on coincidental synchronicity in this election year. Obama will accept the nomination on the anniversary of MLK's "I have a dream speech." Hillary Clinton, it has been reported, will speak on Tuesday night which happens to also be the anniversary of the ratification of the 19th amendment. No, Obama's birthday isn't as big as either of those events, but it is an interesting side note to make...even if only for coincidental synchronicity.

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Unknown said...

It would not look right for Obama to announce his choice and then go off on vacation. It would make Obama look like a slacker (off on vacation while is running mate is in the spotlight), and it would make the ticket look like they lacked team work.

If only for that reason, Obama won't do it. Instead, we will reflect on his final decision during his vacation, and make his announcement within days after ending his vacation, when he is ready to make some joint appearances.

Anonymous said...

This is a good point, Allen. But all we really know about this vacation is that it is to take place sometime during August. All I was able to find on this proposed vacation was this.

The question then is:
Does the vacation come before or after Aug. 12?

If before, then I doubt that is enough time for the joint appearances you mention. If the down time comes after that Hawaii fundraiser, then I would argue that is enough time to fit in an initial round of joint appearances prior to the convention.

Speaking of which...How much time is enough time to get in those initial joint appearances?

Unknown said...

The Obama campaign has shown that Friday announcements can be effective. They dominate the news, and bury the opposition response. The Richardson endorsement was on a Friday, and I know there was at least one more around the same time, but I don't now remember what it was. (I have a hazy recollection of pundits at that stage of the race noting three times Obama had used Fridays in that way.)

And I disagree that the Obama campaign wants to maximize airtime on the choice. They're ahead, and the McCain campaign is desperately trying to find a characterization that sticks (elisit? inexperienced? radical? just another pol?). A VP pick just gives the McCain campaign another chance to take some swings. So the Obama campaign wants to make the announcement, make a big splash, and then end the conversation.

On top of that, it forces McCain into a spot where he doesn't maximize airtime with his pick. My guess? Obama announces Thursday. He gets one day of splash, and no effective response. And what does that leave for McCain? During the Olympics? During the Dem convention? On the weekend between the two conventions? Every choice is bad.

Anonymous said...

A valid argument, Scott. Maximize may not have been the right word for me to have used there. Your point is along the lines of what I was thinking. There is a balance the Obama team has to maintain. At the very least I should have posed the question, "How much time is too much time to let the announcement circulate in the news?" Is a Monday announcement followed by three days of coverage too much? Is a Thursday announcement that dominates the news cycle then fades into Olympics coverage the next day just right or is it too little? It is certainly right from the perspective that it forces McCain to announce during the Olympics.

...or consider jumping Obama and announcing first. The "weeks away" statement makes it appear that McCain is closer to a decision by comparison even if in reality he isn't.

Anonymous said...

For the record:

Bush/Cheney: News of Cheney being tapped emerged on Tuesday, July 25 and he was formally announced the next day.

Gore/Lieberman: News broke on Monday August 7 and Lieberman confirmed the decision to reporters on Tuesday at his home.

Kerry/Edwards: The news of Edwards getting the nod came out on July 6, a Tuesday.

So, if these recent instances are any guide (and given breaks with convention we've seen so far this election season, they aren't), then we're looking at a Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday announcement/introduction.
...whether it's next week or not.

Unknown said...

Olympics: Aug 8-24
Obama vacation: "mid August"
Dem convention: Mon-Wed, Aug 25-27
Rep convention: Mon-Thurs, Sept 1-4

I predict the VP announcement around Aug 14 to 19 :-)

Anonymous said...

If the vacation precedes that fundraiser, then you may be right.

If he waits that long, though, I think McCain will jump Obama. But that may be what they want. Such a strategy would seemingly fit in with the "we're in the lead already, why risk it" strategy Scott has alluded to.

Robert said...

I think Obama will announce between Tuesday and Thursday next week. McCain will then announce within a day of the Obama announcement.

Anonymous said...

We should put this to a vote of the masses and take an average.

Allen: Aug. 14-19
Josh: Aug. 4-5
Rob: Aug. 5-7
Scott: Aug. 7

Mean Date: Aug. 8-9
Median Date: Aug. 6-7

Interesting. Of course our sample size is pretty small.

Unknown said...

I'll wager one round of drinks (payable in Washington DC) that the announcement will not come before Mon, Aug 11. Who's in? :-)

Anonymous said...

This would be the advantage of having a small sample. I'm assuming travel expenses are not included. Ha!