In a historic election season full of intense campaigning, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama head into their 2012 party conventions tied at 46%, according to the most recent Gallup poll (ending August 25). A closer look at the polling data shows that voters see each of the candidates having a key advantage over the other.
In an economy in which millions are struggling to find work, voters perceive the business-savvy former CEO Romney as the candidate that is "better able to handle the economy" by a strong 52% to 43% advantage. Romney's financial expertise also has played favorably among voter perceptions when it comes to "handling the federal budget deficit," where he leads the president by 15 points, 54% to 39%.
But when it comes to personal favorability among voters, Obama's charm and familiarity has been difficult to overcome for Romney -- who is less well-known than the president and generally has a more serious demeanor. The president is perceived by voters as being the more "likeable" and "trustworthy" of the two candidates by large margins: 54% to 31% and 48% to 36%, respectively.
Romney has two months to convince voters that he's the right guy to fix the economy AND that he's likable and trustworthy. No small feat.
To close the gap and ultimately move the needle in the Republican's favor, Romney and fellow speakers at the Republican National Convention in Tampa need to make a big splash this week.
This convention is his chance to present himself in a new way to voters. And every fiber optic cable, stage light and national debt clock will have their role, presenting Romney in a new light.
So how many components does it take to build a candidate's reputation? Let's look at the numbers and dollars behind the 2012 Republican National Convention to find out:
All Eyes Are On Florida Again
39,000,000: The number of people expected to tune in on their television sets to watch Romney, running mate Rep. Paul Ryan and others speak at the convention. Many viewers will be watching the candidates for the first time.
1972: The last time a Republican convention was held in Florida -- for the second nomination of Richard M. Nixon. This will be the Republican Party's third convention to be held in Florida.
$55 million: The amount the RNC Tampa Bay Host Committee has budgeted to hold the entire convention. With the four-day convention cut to three days in response to the possible threat of Hurricane Isaac, that's $18.3 million budgeted per day!
50,000: The total number of visitors expected at the convention, including politicians, delegates, VIPs, media members and others. That's roughly one-seventh the size of the population of Tampa.
15,000: The number of credentialed media and international press corps members expected to attend -- a media presence second only in size to the recent Summer Olympic Games in London.
$173 million: The total amount the Republican National Convention is expected to pump into the Tampa Bay area's economy from direct spending (this includes the event spending itself, along with consumer spending and extra security spending), according to the Tampa-based research team at Jones Lang LaSalle.
An Engineering Feat Years In The Making
$2.5 million: The value of the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired theatrical stage upon which Romney and other prominent GOP members will be speaking.
1.5: The number of years that the convention organizers have been planning the RNC convention stage.
30,000: The number of man-hours that 318 production staff and crew members put into building the podium. Pitching in from 22 different states, some crew members have been working 16-hour days, while the main staff has been working around the clock to make the convention presentation a success.
25,662: The total combined weight, in pounds, of the 267 incandescent lights and 390 arc lights that will be used for stage and podium lighting.
14.79: The length, in miles, of custom-designed cabling that will distribute data from the control panel to those individual lights that will be used to brighten up the stage and podium.
$30 million: The amount spent on upgrades in advance of the convention, according to Bay Area News 9 in Tampa. The money reportedly went toward video boards, information booths, additional restrooms and greater amenities.
9,000,000: The total number of pixels in the 15 different video screens and several arena ribbons that will display video to tens of thousands of people in the audience and millions more watching on TV.
381: The size, in square feet, of the largest screen at the convention. That's roughly half the size of a small apartment.
1.36 million: The amount of amplifier power, in watts, that will be used for podium sound. That amount of energy could power a whopping 4,533 home stereo systems.
2: The number of ticking national debt clocks to be on prominent display on the arena's upper rings. As of August 28, the staggering national debt was at nearly $16 trillion, an amount larger than the U.S.'s entire economy measured in GDP.
[InvestingAnswers Feature: 10 Countries Drowning In Government Debt]
Economic Boom Expected To Hit Tampa
$85.6 million: The amount that visitors are expected to collectively spend -- and pump into the Tampa Bay economy -- at or around the convention during the week. Visitors will spend $40 million to $50 million just on hotels, meals, transportation, gifts and other purchases around the event.
450: The amount of toffee candy treats, in pounds, that local business Toffee to Go will produce each day for Republican National Convention guests.
14,000: The number of gift bags that a local UPS store will be dispersing to hotels for media and delegate members to use at the convention.
$2.7 million: The total amount of money spent on beautification projects in Tampa, according to Bloomberg. That reportedly includes $300,000 to light up the city's four downtown bridges at night during the conference.
$50 million: The amount of federal grant money awarded to the city of Tampa to be used for enhanced security (such as extra officers, helicopters, security cameras). The same amount has been awarded to the city of Charlotte for enhanced security at the Democratic National Convention.
3,000: The number of additional police officers from other parts of the state expected to join Tampa's 1,000 police officers to enhance security during the convention.
1,700: The estimated number of National Guard troops planned to be deployed in the Tampa Bay area.
And One Big Switch...
2008: The year that former Democratic Congressman Artur Davis served as then-Senator Obama's campaign co-chairman. He has recently switched political parties and will speak at this year's Republican National Convention.
This article orginally appeared at InvestingAnswers.com.