GP Insights

GP Insights # 400, 23 August 2020

Democratic Convention in the US and the formal nominations of Kamala Harris and Joe Biden
Vivek Mishra

What happened?
On 20 August, the Democratic party concluded its four-day Democratic National Convention (DNC). Former US Vice-President Joe Biden took the centre stage by formally accepting the Democratic Party's nomination for the post of President.

Kamala Harris made history with her formal nomination as the first black woman and person of Asian descent on a major party's national ticket. This sets a definite tone to the US Presidential election in November, later this year, pitting Joe Biden against the sitting US President, Donald Trump.  

What is the background?
First, the purpose of party conventions. The Democratic National Convention (DNC) is a series of presidential nominating conventions held every four years since 1832 by the Democratic Party. The primary objective of the Convention is to officially nominate a candidate for the President and Vice President and turn the presumptive status on the nominee to a final one. The pre-election conventions are also a platform for the Presidential candidate to speak directly, and connect with voters.

The DNC this year was unique in many respects. First, it was largely online; it was originally planned to be hosted in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The Convention's broadcasts drew 122 million views across digital platform live streams and attracted 85.1 million to television broadcasts. Second, it created history in nominating a black woman of mixed India descent to one of the highest offices in the country. Kamala Harris was once a top contender for the Presidency but decided to drop out of the race, owing to difficulties in fundraising and too many contenders at the Primaries stage.

Second, the highlights of 2020 DNC. In his acceptance speech, Biden said, "The current President has cloaked America in darkness for much too long — too much anger, too much fear, too much division. Here and now, I give you my word: If you entrust me with the Presidency, I will draw on the best of us, not the worst. I will be an ally of the light, not the darkness." Among the star speakers were: Andrew Cuomo, Governor of New York; Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar; former First Lady Michelle Obama; independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders; Jill Biden; former President Bill Clinton, former Secretary of State John Kerry; Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez; 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton; former President Barack Obama; Kamala Harris, and Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren. The speeches of Barack and Michelle Obama stood out.

The Convention served as a platform to target Trump as incompetent, corrupt and lacking empathy.

What does it mean?
The DNC has also put a nail in the coffin of other Presidential candidates by finalizing their presidential nominee. Several other candidates dropped out of the 2020 presidential race. This included former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senator Cory Booker from New Jersey, former Mayor of South Bend, Indiana Pete Buttigieg, and entrepreneur Andrew Yang.  

The Republican Convention will follow later, and President Trump will be its nominee. This clears the path for a straight fight between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Biden's support has surged in the recent past, and closely allied Democratic groups raised $70 million during their four-day Convention. However, Trump's campaign and closely allied groups pulled in $165 million during the political fundraising month of July.

The level of support for both candidates shows that the Presidential race is likely to go to the wire. 

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