Kerry's bad bounce.
Newsweek only gives Kerry a 4 point bounce in the polls since three weeks ago. A USAToday/Gallup/CNN poll gives Kerry a negative bounce - Bush seemed to gain ground although I think that it was within the margin of error. Anyway you look at it, the convention was a flop. The only purpose that modern conventions play is to give the party a chance to present itself to the public. The Democrats did the as well as they could given the limited time the networks gave them. They papered over internal differences and gave a smiling united front. Their candidate gave a speech tailored to the moderate swing voter. After all that, they have nothing to show for it.
How good was Kerry's speech? I missed most of it so I am going on how others viewed it. I see a lot of positive reviews, several reviews that point out how bland the speech was, and a few reviews that call it outright boring. I suspect that the people who said it was great were the same ones who voted for Kerry in the primary. In both cases, Kerry might not have appealed to them but they were sure that he would appeal to swing voters.
At least he didn't leave people confused like Gore did in 2000.
A big quesiton is how motivated are the ABB Democrats? Kerry is counting on them to vote for him because he is Not Bush. The problem is that his approach is pretty close to Bush's. Will the ABBers hold their nose and vote Kerry, will they vote Nader, or will they stay home?
Bush has the same problem. He is a lot more moderate than most people give him credit for being and the fiscal conservatives and Libertarians have to descide if they could live with Kerry if it would teach the party a leson.
I doubt that Bush will get much of a bump from the Republican convention either. People already know who he is and the convention gets little air time.
Who will win?
Democrats point out that the presidents who lost all had high negative ratings. They say that the undescideds will "come home" to them in November.
Republicans point out that Bush's low ratings have not helped Kerry much. He neither generates nor inspires much passion. The three post-WWII candidates who beat a sitting president, Carter, Reagan, and Clinton, all came out of their convention with a hugh lead.
I suspect that there are a lot of closet-Bush supporters. When people feel that it is acceptable to wear "Fuck Bush" t-shirts in public, you keep quiet to avoid arguments.
It might be that Kerry got it right back in Iowa. His selling point then was how well he would do in a debate with Bush. It might come down to that.
Of course, Bush out-preforms expectations in debates so Kerry could be in trouble.