The Democrats on Monday start their four-day convention that will see Joe Biden formally adopted as the party’s presidential nominee and praised by a string of grandees.
To preview a week of political pageantry I took over The Telegraph’s weekly politics podcast, Chopper’s Politics, to look at the challenges facing Mr Biden at the convention and beyond.
It features polling expert Larry Sabato breaking down the state of the race with less than three months to go and former Hillary Clinton political director Amanda Renteria discussing what happens when conventions go wrong.
Moe Vela, a man who was by Mr Biden’s side as his director of administration on day one of the Obama presidency, also shares his insights about Mr Biden the person and politician.
You can listen to the full podcast above. Spinning off from those discussions, here are four things to watch for at this year’s Democratic National Convention.
1) A convention like no other
This year there will be no arena packed with tens of thousands of cheering supporters, no ticker tape and balloons falling down onto the anointed presidential nominee.
Thanks to coronavirus the convention will be almost entirely virtual, a made-for-television spectacle that will see delegates tuning in remotely and speeches made to camera.
The core of the convention will be two hours of broadcasts on Monday to Thursday, programmed to catch the prime time TV audiences from 9pm to 11pm on US eastern time.
Some strategists believe that by ditching the archaic full-day schedules of conventions of old and focussing on engaging films and short speeches voters may actually be more engaged.
2) Bridging the divide
The start of the year seems like a lifetime ago in today’s US news cycle but the first three months of 2020 saw a bruising set of primaries as candidates tussled for the presidential nomination which laid bare a party split.
The race dynamics soon settled into a leading light on the party’s Left, Bernie Sanders, squaring off against the flag carrier for the moderates, Mr Biden, the former US vice president.
Since Mr Biden pulled into an unassailable delegate lead in the spring lots has been going on behind the scenes to make sure progressives fall in line and vote for Mr Biden.
Mr Sanders takes to the stage on Monday and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the 30-year-old congresswoman and left-wing icon, speaks Tuesday. How fully will they embrace the centrist Mr Biden? Or will the splits still be on show?
3) Closing the economic gap
The polls, for whatever they are worth, make for dire reading for Donald Trump right now. Behind in national polls. Behind in the swing states. Viewed poorly on his handling of the pandemic.
But consistently when Americans are asked in surveys who they trust more to lead the country out of this economic slump Mr Trump comes out on top against Mr Biden.
One of their big messages the Biden camp will be trying to land over the convention is that Mr Trump’s mismanagement of the pandemic equals mismanagement of the economy.
They are seeking to pin the blame for the staggering economic drop-off – more than 55 million people have filed for unemployment benefits since Covid-19 struck the US – on the Trump administration’s failings.
4) Undercutting the age attacks
The Democrats are all too aware that Mr Biden is facing ruthless attacks from the Trump campaign about his age, 77, and whether his mental acuity is not what it once was.
An endless stream of clips of Mr Biden tripping over his words is being pumped out by his opponents online, alongside nudge-nudge comments about his mental sharpness.
The convention and his acceptance speech on Thursday is a chance for Mr Biden to bury the ‘Sleepy Joe’ image being pushed by Mr Trump and project strength in office.
An energetic, free-flowing address at a moment when more voters than usual are tuning in would help undercut the Trump camp narrative ahead of the November 3 election.
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