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Pollster: Don't Expect A Convention Bounce For Either Candidate This Year

2020’s national party conventions are in the books. Thursday night, President Donald Trump formally accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for president, a week after former Vice President Joe Biden accepted the Democratic Party’s nomination. 

Tempe-based pollster Mike O’Neil says that typically, parties use their national conventions to woo undecided voters. This year, that’s likely not the case.

“I think these conventions will probably move fewer people than any we’ve ever had. Not because they’re virtual — I think the virtual aspect has actually been positive — but I think that people are really dug in," O'Neil said. "The undecideds at this point are the least engaged, least involved, who pay the least attention to politics."

According to O'Neil, the Republican National Convention's message was based on fear, something he says isn't likely to resonate with what few undecided voters are still around.

“They’re trying to basically turn this into a scarefest," he said. "That stuff I don’t think helped them at all, because it just didn’t ring at all credible.”

The most recent polling averages leave Arizona very much in play for both parties ahead of November, with the Democratic nominee having a very slight edge over the incumbent president. Speaking after the Republican National Convention wrapped up Thursday evening, O’Neil says he’s skeptical about the GOP message resonating with undecided voters. Attacks against Biden fall flat, O'Neil says, because Biden has already been defined by his years in office.

"Either Joe is a do-nothing who hasn't accomplished anything in 47 years, or maybe he's some sort of radical who is going to change the whole world," O'Neil said. "How you sell both of those at the same time is beyond my conception. I think they're testing messages. How do you sell that, given that everybody knows that Joe Biden was the most conservative candidate in the entire Democratic field."

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Scott Bourque was a reporter and podcast producer at KJZZ from 2019 to 2022.