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.
Today is the start of the 2020 Democratic National Convention, the first in the party’s nearly 200-year history that will not take place in a convention hall or even in person. The COVID-19 pandemic forced the Democrats to host the convention in a virtual format, presenting both challenges and opportunities for the presumptive presidential and vice presidential nominees, former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Senator Kamala Harris, to unify their party and amplify their message to the American public.
Heading into the convention, the Biden-Harris ticket has built momentum both in the polls and in fundraising. Before Biden selected Harris as his running mate, he had nearly closed the fundraising gap with President Trump and maintained a high-single-digit to low-double-digit lead in national polls, and narrow or modest leads in most swing state polls.
In the days since Sen. Harris became the presumptive vice-presidential nominee, polling and fundraising figures suggest palpable excitement for the ticket. The campaign announced it had raised $48 million in the first 48 hours after the Harris announcement, part of which came from over 150,000 first-time donors. A Politico/Morning Consult poll conducted immediately following Harris’ selection found 53% of voters approve of Biden’s choice. Biden’s favorability received a boost as well, to 51%, his highest in the Politico/Morning Consult polling. A poll from Marist College released just days before the convention shows Biden growing his national lead to 53-42%, from 52-44% in June.
Presidential campaigns often look forward to a post-convention polling bump, even though they’re typically fleeting. But given the seemingly substantial lead the Biden-Harris ticket already has and the small number of undecided voters left, is there a way for them to come out of the convention with extra support? Absent the arena filled with screaming supporters, the avalanche of balloons and confetti, and the euphoria of the atmosphere, this could prove a challenge.
On the other hand, convention organizers have opened the virtual setting to participants in a way that has never been done before. The high cost of attending a convention typically shuts out the average American. But by going virtual, anyone with a smartphone can attend the many events that precede the headline speeches every night. This could present an opportunity for Biden and Harris’ allies and supporters to reach even more people through the convention than they could have in the traditional setting.
The AFBF Advocacy and Political Affairs team will be participating in many of the events and watching the primetime speeches to see what we can learn from the convention. Check each day for our recap and analysis of the previous day’s events.
Michael Sistak is AFBF’s director of grassroots program development.