By Mark Z. Barabak, Los Angeles Times –
LOS ANGELES — The Big Dog beat the guy in the Big Chair. And a guy talking to an empty chair beat the guy trying to win the White House.
Asked to name the highlights of the Democratic and Republican national conventions, most people cited a pair speakers who won’t be on any ballot this November: Bill Clinton and Clint Eastwood.
Perhaps it’s because both, in their own way, winged it.
Clinton, who delivered a lengthy, sprawling, often-extemporaneous endorsement of President Barack Obama, was cited as the highlight of the Democratic gathering by nearly three in 10 of those surveyed, according to poll released Monday by the Pew Research Center.
Obama’s speech — which capped Thursday final session — was cited as a highlight by 16 percent of those surveyed, followed closely by his wife, Michelle.
Of those who watched at least some of the minutely scripted conventions, six in 10 rated the president’s speech excellent or good, compared with 73 percent who said of Obama’s speech four years ago — which, back then, was deemed the highlight of the Democratic National Convention in Denver.
Eastwood, who improvised a one-way dialog with a chair (which was supposed to represent Obama) was cited as the highlight of the GOP convention by 20 percent of those asked, followed by Mitt Romney at 17 percent and his wife, Ann, at 10 percent.
Just over half of those who watched at least some GOP convention coverage, 53 percent, rated the Republican nominee’s speech favorably.
The image of both men improved as a result of their conventions, even if neither was considered the high point. In the Pew survey, 26 percent said their opinion of Obama had grown more favorable in recent days, while 7 percent said that of Romney. Significantly, three important voting group — women, young people and independents — viewed Obama’s address more favorably than Romney’s.
Those findings would be in line with other surveys that suggested Obama got a bigger “bounce” from his convention than former Massachusetts Gov. Romney.