In their pre-game analysis before President Obama's nomination acceptance speech Thursday night, ABC News painted the costly cancelation -- "a hefty six figures" in fruitless set-up costs for broadcast equipment for the networks, reported Dylan Byers of Politico -- of tonight's planned Bank of America Stadium venue as a "lucky break."
"Absolutely a lucky break," political contributor Matthew Dowd told anchor George Stephanopoulos, insisting that while the Obama campaign "could have filled the stadium... there is no way they could have repeated the energy in this crowd." But meanwhile over on CBS, anchor Scott Pelley showed viewers at home the scene at Bank of America stadium, where "it is dark and there is not a drop of rain falling in the vicinity here in Charlotte. [video follows page break]
But as the Charlotte News & Observer reported yesterday, the chances of really extreme inclement weather hitting the stadium were in the single digits:
The National Weather Service, who have been briefing convention organizers and others about forecasts this week, said the number of thunderstorms on Thursday could be fewer than what has hit the region in the past few days. But forecasts showed there was a slight, 2-to-5 percent chance of severe thunderstorms developing during the day that could produce either winds of at least 58 miles-per-hour or hail measuring at least one-inch in diameter.
As Toby Harnden of the British newspaper the Daily Mail reported on September 4, filling the stadium was always going to have been a challenge, and Democrats had resorted to plans to bus in college kids and churchgoers. At the time of his report, Harnden noted that the "contingency plan" to move seemed to already be in motion, despite a mere 30 percent chance of rain (emphasis mine):
Democrats are poised to avoid the danger of President Barack Obama accepting his party’s nomination before a partially-empty stadium by shifting his speech to an indoor arena and citing ‘severe weather’.
The Obama campaign have been working desperately to ensure that the 74,000-seater Bank of America stadium in Charlotte would be filled.
Buses for students from across North Carolina and even members of black churches in neighboring South Carolina have been arranged.
The current Weather Underground forecast for Charlotte on Thursday is: ‘Partly cloudy with a chance of a thunderstorm and a chance of rain. High of 93F with a heat index of 99F. Winds from the SW at 5 to 10 mph. Chance of rain 30%.’
Democratic convention sources have indicated that the ‘contingency plan’ is at an advanced stage and that a move to the stadium appears certain.
‘It looks like a done deal to me,’ said one convention worker. ‘The decision’s apparently been taken and it’s just a matter of spinning it as being forced on us by the weather.’
Convention delegates, party volunteers and Democratic officials gathered in Charlotte would make up about one-third of a crowd in the Bank of America stadium, which officials have said would be 65,000 people.
In 2008, when Obama fever was at its height, the then US Senator had no trouble filling an 84,000-seater outside stadium in Denver, Colorado. But voter enthusiasm has waned this time around.
Obama’s crowds in 2008 were far bigger than in recent months. His largest audience has been 14,000 at a campaign kick-off rally at Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio in May.
Some 13,000 people were at Obama's rally at the University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado on Sunday.
Suffice to say, there's been a lack of skepticism by the broadcast media about the official excuse for canceling the stadium speech. What's more, as our friends at Twitchy noticed today, many journalists and reporters were positively giddy citing a brief passing storm this afternoon as evidence of the wisdom of canceling the event at Bank of America Stadium.