2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

2012 Elections: News, Analysis, Videos, and Breaking on the Presidential Election, Local Elections, and More

Complete coverage of the 2012 election

Balloons Again Fail to Bounce Democrats' Way

A seemingly simple act of dropping a child's toy can be complicated

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    NEWSLETTERS

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    Mitt Romney and the GOP again enjoyed a festive balloon drop, while Dems are left out of the fun.

    The political tradition of balloon dropping at conventions - s seemingly simple act involving a child's toy - has vexed Democrats over the years.

    With rain having fallen all week Charlotte, NC, , the party made the decision to move the Democratic National Convention's closing night festivities indoors. The downside to this decision, however, is that it leaves organizers without sufficient time to prepare balloons for the Time Warner Cable Arena.

    This snafu is just the latest evidence that balloons have historically leaned right when it comes to presidential politics.

    The spectacle of the convention-al balloon drop was first organized by Hollywood titan Louis B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. As a Russian immigrant, he was drawn to the GOP's strong pro-business, anti-communist stance, eventually becoming an activist, according Steven Ross, a professor of history at USC and author of "Hollywood Left and Right: How Movie Stars Shaped American Politics."

    "(Mayer) turned MGM into a publicity wing for the GOP. He was also friends with Hoover," explained Ross via phone from California. "When they decided top put the 1928 convention on radio as well, he said you have to turn the whole thing into a spectacle. You have to mount a convention in the same way you would the premiere of a big movie. He made sure there were live bands, I don’t know 100% if the balloons were his idea, but they were certainly his responsibility—to make the convention a happening event."

    Hoover would go on to win the election with 58% of the popular vote.

    With the invention of the massed produced latex balloon coming just three years later, suddenly the balloon drop was as affordable as it was festive.

    But it backfired for Jimmy Carter in his 1980 bid for re-election. The Georgia peanut farmer had to deal with not just Ronald Reagan and the Iran Hostage Crisis, but a botched balloon drop at his convention. Carter would go on to lose, garnering a mere 41% of the popular vote.

    Twenty-four years later, the display following John Kerry's acceptance of his party's nomination was so paltry that acclaimed producer and director Don Mischer's f-bombs were dropping faster than the balloons. Kerry would go on to lose to George W. Bush, amassing only 48.3% of the vote.

    With GOP nominee Mitt Romney and running mate Paul Ryan having been showered last week by a flawless balloons drop, Obama now finds himself facing his own balloon deficit.

    Mark Zettler of Life of the Party - who has been in the balloon business for some 30 years- believes that Romney and Ryan will enjoy an advantage, however slight, because of the classic image of the two candidates staring up in wonder at the falling balloons.

    "(The Democrats are) not gonna have that. Does that lose a little bit for them? Sure. Should that mean everything in the world to them? No. But they will lose a little bit there, cuz they won't have that photo-op and that's what these conventions are about."