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The State: of the Democratic Convention After Day 3

News / The State August 20, 2020

Through a series of articles we call The State, the American Farm Bureau Federation’s Advocacy and Political Affairs team is providing analysis related to "the state of" various aspects of the 2020 campaign season, including the race for the White House and key elections around the country.

Cody Lyon:  The third night of the Democratic convention had three key purposes: allowing Sen. Kamala Harris to accept the Vice Presidential nomination and introduce herself to the nation; featuring speakers who highlighted the legislative priorities of what a Joe Biden administration would seek to offer Americans; and building on the power of Harris while offering a clear refute of the Trump administration’s policies, in addition to making a concerted effort to not just persuade voters, but mobilize them.

Harris’ background is well-documented and was on display throughout her speech which wove all three purposes together. Harris explained why she studied law and entered public service as a district attorney, an attorney general and a senator. 

What I think many Americans will see over the next 75 days is her passion, intelligence and conviction. Her work and political experience and skills as a communicator should appeal across wide segments of voters as she campaigns around the country and virtually. She speaks to critical groups of voters in ways that Biden is unable to do so, including younger voters and women. Last night, she worked to warm those constituencies with her speech. Over the next several months I expect Harris to be a powerful campaigner and strong supporter of Joe Biden and the Democratic vision for America.

Mike Sistak:  Even though her critics will point out that her own presidential campaign never made it to the Iowa Caucuses, the reality is that Harris already had a strong national following when she became the Vice Presidential nominee. Last night she effectively demonstrated why so many people like her and why Biden’s selection of her has been well-received, even among some Republicans. Few people vote for the Vice President, but if we remember back to the summer of 2019, there were a lot of Democrats whose dream scenario was a Biden-Harris ticket: the senior statesman of the party who could appeal to the traditional blue-collar base, independents and moderate Republicans; and the hard-charging former prosecutor with multigenerational appeal who cuts a wide path across diverse demographics and can solidify the standing Biden already had with women.

Given her breadth of experience in law and government, no one is questioning her ability to step into Biden’s shoes, should that become necessary. We’re less than three months to Election Day, and I think we’re only just starting to see the formidable combination of Biden-Harris. Anyone who doesn’t take this ticket as a serious challenge to Trump-Pence would do so to their detriment.

Randy Dwyer:   In normal times, the penultimate evening of the convention is traditionally reserved for an unveiling of the vice-presidential candidate. The candidate offers an acceptance speech, outlines his or her values and the mainstream media reports on it the following morning.

While this all followed script last night, in a virtual setting, the major headlines this morning covered what former President Obama had to say more than anyone else. Obama used his time to outline stark – and in some ways dark – consequences ahead based on the outcome of the election. Just like former first lady Michelle Obama did the previous evening, her husband pointed out what he saw as character flaws as well as managerial flaws in President Trump.

He also used his time to tell the faithful about Biden, who he calls a brother, and how he’ll meet the challenges ahead and bring America back together. It is unusual for a former president to publicly criticize a sitting president, but Obama did not hold back. Now that he’s started swinging, one can expect Obama to continue through Election Day. By helping to elect Biden, he’ll be preserving his own legacy.

Cody Lyon:  As we move to the final night of the virtual convention, Biden will address the audience and lay out his vision with the theme “America’s Promise.”  His task is simple, but difficult: fully define your candidacy on its own terms before the Trump campaign and Republicans spend enormous sums of money on broadcast TV commercials, social media ads and other resources to drag him down.

For more analysis on the 2020 Election click here. 


Cody Lyon is AFBF’s managing director of advocacy and political affairs.

Randy Dwyer is AFBF’s director of advocacy & grassroots development.

Michael Sistak is AFBF’s director of grassroots program development.

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