Howling wind, driving rain and potential damage in New Orleans from Hurricane Isaac hasn't yet dampened U.S. Republican convention media coverage, but early TV ratings proved only so-so while many people instead "tuned in" to social networks.
Republican fears that Isaac's battering of the US Gulf Coast would steal the spotlight eased on Wednesday, a day after a key speech by Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney, stole the show from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
But the biggest problem for the Republicans was less the hurricane and more dwindling interest in convention-watching by the general public, experts said.
"Isaac is sucking out a lot of the oxygen but that's because there wasn't much oxygen in the first place," said Sherry Bebitch Jeffe, senior fellow at the University of Southern California's Price School of Public Policy. "Voters and certainly the media are aware these conventions have become hour-long infomercials. There is very little suspense."
Ahead of Tuesday, news of Isaac's path toward the US Gulf Coast revived memories of Hurricane Katrina's destruction seven years ago and threw a spotlight on something the Republican Party would rather forget in its convention week -- the botched relief efforts under George W. Bush, the last Republican president.
But even as some networks moved their anchors from the convention in Tampa to Isaac's landfall in New Orleans to cover both events, those interested in politics tuned in to hear Ann Romney personalize her husband and Christie tackle the Obama White House -- whether on TV or the Internet.