Democrats fulfilled mission to hold Joe Biden in the lead in convention

Democrats fulfilled mission to hold Joe Biden in the lead in convention
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Following the Democratic National Convention, which ran last week as a virtual event for the first time in history, we have to ask two fundamental questions as we head toward the election. First, what did the convention accomplish? Second, what did the convention fail to accomplish?

The convention was ultimately a success in the sense that it portrayed the ticket with Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden says Beau's assessment of first 100 days would be 'Be who you are' Biden: McCarthy's support of Cheney ouster is 'above my pay grade' Conservative group sues over prioritization of women, minorities for restaurant aid MORE and Kamala Harris as competent and welcoming to a broad coalition, while also making a strong case to bridge our divides and unite to defeat Donald Trump. It featured remarks from leaders across the political spectrum in a way that was supposed to encapsulate the big tent inclusiveness for the coalition. The speakers comprised some entrenched party leaders and all of the living former Democratic presidents.

“I never expected for my successor to embrace my vision or continue my policies. But I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Trump may show some interest in taking the job seriously. But he never did,” stated Barack Obama. The theme of the convention was a message against Trump. The case for Biden was made by contrasting the lack of character and failures of Trump with the greater character and capabilities of Biden. Democrats achieved their unstated objective to do no harm, given that Biden is now ahead of Trump by 10 points, as it stands in Real Clear Politics.


Attacking Trump for mishandling the coronavirus was also central for the convention and to the message for the candidacy of Biden. Almost every speaker tied Trump in certain ways to the 175,000 deaths and millions of jobs lost in the country amidst the pandemic. The remarks by Biden were crafted to this end, with the intent of showing us how his personality and skills, formed by his own struggles and his life in public service, will make him a far more competent leader than Trump. “The current president has cloaked America in darkness for much too long,” stated Biden.

His remarks were a success as his delivery was strong and energetic. This is critical, given that Republicans have made his age and mental fitness a central theme for their attacks. While Democrats achieved their unstated objective, they likely failed in gaining more supporters in the convention. While Biden promised to protect health care, repeal tax cuts that benefit the wealthy, and invest in renewable energy for handling climate change and creating jobs, he also focused on the failures of Trump. The policies do not fit into a cohesive strategy for Biden that was made clear, and the event arguably did nothing to expand the coalition of the party.

Harris delivered inspirational remarks about our values and unity around Biden, as well as sharp criticisms of Trump, but it was clear that she also does not have a consistent vision for the country. She stated that voters must elect a president who will bring Americans of all races together to “achieve the future we collectively want.” While this might have done no harm, it also did nothing to reach out to those working class voters who went for Obama in 2008 and 2012 but swung to Trump in 2016. Further, while the party tried an awkward bridge to the left with key remarks by progressive leaders, they avoided moving all the way to the left.

In several ways, Democrats had success with this, given that the tension between the progressives and moderates in the party was rarely evident in the convention, despite the fact that the party has the hard balancing act of working to bring together such a broad coalition of voters for this charged environment. It is unlikely that Biden will have a jolt in the polls, but his performance will likely result in him maintaining a lead, which is exactly what the Democrats were trying to accomplish last week.

Douglas Schoen is a consultant who served as an adviser to President Bill Clinton and to the campaign of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. His latest book was “Collapse: A World in Crisis and the Urgency of American Leadership.”