A Tale of Two Conventions
The National Conventions of the two major parties are an integral part of the Presidential election cycle and a treat to watch. While this year’s conventions missed the usual pomp and circumstance due to COVID precautions, it was still worth watching.
The DNC was almost entirely virtual, with some speeches recorded several days before. Michelle Obama’s recorded speech did not even mention Kamala Harris, who was announced as the pick a week before. The presentations appeared very glitchy. At times, speakers did not even know they were live. The big screen with dozens of people cheering seemed great until it became obvious that several people were on the screen more than once and the cheering was in a loop which repeated itself. I expected more from a party that is dominated by Hollywood and Silicon Valley professionals. There was no mention of the riots and looting, and policy discussions were nowhere to be found. The overall theme can be summarized thusly: Orange Man Bad!
As for the RNC, the flow was silky smooth. The transitions were seamless. The location of Fort McHenry for Vice President Pence’s speech was perfect. The live audiences for Pence and Trump added a real convention like feel. While Republicans have traditionally made solid logical arguments in support of our policies, I have always envied the ability of the Democrats to make an emotionally compelling argument. Logical arguments, however solid they may be, will lose to an emotionally compelling argument almost every time. This time, however, the RNC did a spectacular job on that front. Instead of talking policy which could be abstract and boring, the RNC brought in average Americans to discuss the positive impact of policies implemented over the past four years. There was a lobsterman from Maine, a dairy farmer from Wisconsin, and a Democrat Mayor from Minnesota, all of whom painted a vivid picture of the positive personal impact of Republican policies.
The daily themes: land of promise, land of opportunity, land of heroes and land of greatness, all struck an optimistic tone. America is still the greatest place in the world. Consequently, the Democrats were left with quibbling about the number of flags on stage, supposed noise violation by the fireworks and vitriol directed towards a paralyzed young man who stood up for the Pledge of Allegiance assisted by a walker. Bette Midler decided to ridicule Melania’s accent. Perhaps I am mistaken, but I thought the Democrats were the party of immigrants… but I digress.
While Biden’s poll numbers were already sliding, the conventions appear to have accelerated that decline. Biden’s 10-point lead in the Realclearpolitics.com average of polls in late-June has dropped to 6.2 points. More significantly, the average of Battleground polls (polling of just the swing states) showed Biden with over a 6-point lead in late-July. Now that lead has dwindled to 2.6 points. Meanwhile, the betting odds, which theoretically factor the present with the future expectations, shows a much starker reality: Biden’s 24-point advantage on August 1st is now down to half a point!
One final point: In striking an optimistic tone, the RNC provided a stark contrast to the DNC. America is a land of optimism. Just like a genuine smile, optimism is infectious. We all understand that life has ups and downs; there are times when we pick others up, but no one wants to be around people who are constantly complaining. People tend to gravitate towards those who are optimistic. The RNC clearly set the stage for success in November with an optimistic tone and the polls are starting to reflect that.