Elizabeth Cook: Post-convention wisdom

Published 12:05 am Sunday, July 31, 2016

Glad it’s over.

That is the general sentiment about the convention phase of this presidential campaign. It also reflects what was the best part of both conventions, according to people who took the Post’s online polls. “When it was over” came out on top of the options offered.

These online polls are not a bit scientific, but they give you an idea of what people are thinking and how they’re leaning. The results are skewed toward the digital generation, since the poll is online.

The results are also skewed toward people who like to keep up with news about the community around them. They’re on our website.

So, for what it’s worth, here goes.

Republican Convention  

What was the best part of the Republican National Convention? The tally went like this:

• 49 percent — When it was over

• 27 percent — Donald Trump’s speech

• 11 percent —Trump family members’ speeches

  8 percent — Ted Cruz’s speech

• 3 percent — Other

• 2 percent — When Dr. Ada Fisher of Salisbury announced the North Carolina delegates’ votes for Trump

• 2 percent — Speeches by other politicians who supported Trump

All told, 752 people voted in that poll over a one-week period.

Democratic Convention

As of 7 p.m. Saturday, 288 people had voted in the Post’s poll about the Democratic National Convention, which ended  just a few days ago.

Once again, the favorite part was when it was over, but here’s a telling detail. Among our poll takers, the Obamas’ speeches were four times as popular as Hillary Clinton’s. Here are the numbers on respondents’ favorite part of the Dems’ convention:

• 59 percent — When it was over

• 22 percent — Speeches by the Obamas

• 5 percent — Hillary Clinton’s speech

• 5 percent — Speeches by others who supported Clinton

• 5 percent — Bernie Sanders and his supporters.

• 3 percent — Bill and Chelsea Clinton

• 1 percent — Other

This falls in line with what the pundits have been saying, with or without data to back them up. Enthusiasm for Trump is greater than enthusiasm for Hillary Clinton. Or maybe it’s just that Hillary’s star-studded convention roster overshadowed her; they certainly outshone her. The Obamas and Bill Clinton are gifted public speakers. Hillary, not so much.

Tactical bipartisanship

Yes, I listened to Bill. I was on the road and missed the “I met a girl” part that raised a lot of eyebrows. Those are ominous words from Bill Clinton.

In the part I heard, the former president talked about what a good senator his wife had been, and he named specific pieces of legislation that she worked on with Republican Newt Gingrich, among others, reaching across the aisle.

I thought there would be flak the next day from Gingrich disputing the Big Dog’s claims. It didn’t happen that way, though. An interviewer asked Gingrich if what Bill Clinton said was accurate. He said that, yes, Hillary was smart and hardworking, and she did a good job on that particular issue. But, he said, she’s still a corrupt politician.

Which brings up visions of the Underwoods on Netflix’s “House of Cards,” smooth husband-and-wife politicians saying one thing when they mean another, and even stabbing each other in the back now and then.

But did they get anything accomplished?

Why, yes, they did.

As a senator, Hillary Clinton practiced what the New York Times called “tactical bipartisanship.” She deliberately reached out to some of the hill’s conservative lawmakers — Lindsay Graham, Trent Lott, Tom DeLay, Rick Santorum — to address issues she knew were important to them.

Conflicting adjectives come to mind:  shrewd, practical, disingenuous, compromising, calculating, effective.

“I don’t want her to be president,” Graham told the Times in 2006. “We’re polar opposites on many issues. But we have been able to find common ground.”

That’s something you don’t find much of these days — common ground. Let’s take a poll on that.

Elizabeth Cook is editor of the Salisbury Post.