The Democratic Convention came to a close on Thursday 20th August and was another opportunity for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris to convince voters from all parts of the spectrum that their ticket is the right choice for the nation. As polls suggest the gap between Biden and Trump is starting to close, how was the party convention received by the public – and could it have made any difference to Biden’s image?
An olive branch to Republicans
This year’s Democratic Convention was marked by a conciliatory tone – not by any means towards the incumbent President but rather to disillusioned conservative voters and independents, who could be looking for a new leader to support in November. Notably, Republican figures like John Kasich gave their time to address viewers and urge them to ‘take the right path’ in the upcoming election. Perhaps more importantly for Biden’s standing among disillusioned conservatives and independents, was the reflection made by Cindy McCain, the widow of 2008 GOP presidential candidate and former senator, John McCain. Her husband’s popularity as both a senator and a war hero is likely to have rendered her remarks poignant for many of the voters Biden was seeking to connect with at the convention: she hailed Biden for his “style of legislating and leadership that you don’t find much anymore.”
Both the former President and First Lady gave speeches at this year’s Democratic Convention. As has been custom in the past, both made headlines with their pleas to the public. Michelle Obama’s sobering maxim – “If you think things cannot possibly get worse, trust me, they can” – left few people unsure of the Party’s desperation to avoid 2016’s failure. Unlike at the convention of four years ago, the former First Lady did not bother veiling her attacks on Donald Trump, stating “he is clearly in over his head.” Two days later, the former President echoed his wife’s sentiment:
““I did hope, for the sake of our country, that Donald Trump might show some interest in taking the job seriously — that he might come to feel the weight of the office and discover some reverence for the democracy that had been placed in his care. But he never did.”Barack Obama at the Democratic Convention 2020
While the convention unfolded without major controversy, there were still questions over how successfully the Democratic Party managed to present itself as a united corps. Observers questioned the consistency of the party’s vision for itself: Republican John Kasich promised Republican voters that Biden would not “turn sharp left”, only to be followed by self-proclaimed socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders (1-VT) promising his progressive cohort that Biden can represent their left-wing ideals.
While Biden appears to be out-polling Trump among third-party voters, there is still uncertainty as to whether his success among the centre-ground and the right will cost him progressive votes in November.