There is quite a different feel to the close of this GOP convention compared to four years ago. There is a palpable belief that the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan ticket has a good shot at winning in November and unseating President Obama. The delegates tell us that.
Yes, of course, four years ago there was Republican excitement about John McCain's candidacy, especially in the early moments of the Sarah Palin vice presidential nomination --- before the bloom came off that rose. But those you talked to then, even Republicans, also believed that the scent of change was in the air after eight years of George W. Bush and that candidate Obama better represented change at that time.
Today, they argue Romney is the change agent and a new poll of Republican voters in the congressional newspaper The Hill demonstrates their current optimism. Seventy-four percent say they believe Romney is a stronger candidate than McCain was.
A Republican strategist we spoke to was also fueled up by pointing out that the Obama team took a strategic risk in front-loading the campaign with huge advertising buys knocking Romney all summer long. And despite it, Romney is still within a point or two of Obama, according to the national polls. Plus, campaign fundraising reports show that it is now Romney with a big money advantage going into the fall.
While it is the independent and the few undecided voters left who will likely decide this election, clearly the GOP base is fired up. Adding Ryan as the vice presidential nominee only fuels their optimism. Seventy-one percent in The Hill poll say Ryan makes a GOP win more likely. That comes despite the criticism of the accuracy of Ryan campaign speeches and the portrayal of Ryan as a budget and entitlement cutter and as a far-right conservative.
Tom Rath, who leads the GOP delegation for New Hampshire, a battleground state, says Republicans are over those concerns and thinks other voters may be, too.
"I think he'll do fine up there," he said, referring to New Hampshire. "He is by his nature an inclusive politician. The district he runs in, in Wisconsin, is very liberal and very [Democratic] — and he wins, and I think because of his personal skills.
"New Hampshire values truth-telling, and leveling with us, and don't sugar coat it, and don't pretend something can be something when it's not. Ryan, I think, really excels at that."
The Democrats of course are trying to tamp down all this end of convention optimism. A statement to WBUR out of the Massachusetts Democratic Party reads, in part, "if Republicans are fired up about moving the nation backwards to the politics of the past, then it shows how out of touch they've become."
In Charlotte, the Democrats get a chance to prove that and create optimism of their own — at their own convention.
This program aired on August 31, 2012.