Biden allies express confidence as convention begins
Former Vice President Joe Biden’s allies say his campaign is exactly where it wants to be as a very different Democratic National Convention kicks off Monday evening.
Team Biden says the rollout for Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), the former vice president's running mate, went exactly as planned. The campaign raised $48 million in 48 hours following the announcement, and Biden allies argue the Trump campaign’s attacks on Harris have been unfocused.
“It was a perfect lead up to the convention,” said one top Biden fundraiser. “And Trump’s team seemed completely unprepared and lacking a strategy.”
The fundraiser pointed to Trump’s remarks suggesting that Harris might be unqualified to serve as vice president. The notion is completely false — Harris was born in California — yet Trump flirted with it by talking up a column published in Newsweek that the news organization later apologized for printing.
“The Trump campaign looks desperate,” the fundraiser said. “It doesn’t seem like they have a well-executed strategy on how to respond to Biden right now.”
Biden is entering the race with a clear polling advantage, with two new polls from ABC News and The Washington Post, and CBS News and YouGov, showing him with a 10-point lead.
“Given all the curveballs 2020 has thrown at all Americans, the fact that the Biden-Harris ticket is up by double digits, with record breaking fundraising is a testament to not only the vice president’s campaign but to Republican and Independents realizing the work chaos of President Trump isn’t a strategy for our country in the midst of a pandemic, recession and social unrest,” said Democratic strategist Michael Trujillo.
A survey from NBC News and The Wall Street Journal has Biden ahead of Trump by 9 points nationally. It also shows Biden is the favorite among voters on handling the coronavirus, race relations, health care and immigration.
Trump does have a lead in a number of surveys on the economy, which continues to be an area of polling strength for the president.
Trujillo says it is too early for Democrats to spike the football.
“I’m sure the Biden-Harris campaign would love to bottle everything that is going right for them right now, fundraising, catching Trump’s team asleep on the VP pick, good polling numbers, couldn’t dream of a better way to head in your national convention,” he said. “But, all presidential campaigns are roller-coasters, and this doesn’t mean you don’t build voter firewalls, build out your state teams and continue to engage as many volunteers as possible because if you aren’t building an organization that will fight for every vote in every precincts across the country then you are doing it wrong, and so far Team Biden is doing it right.”
Privately, Democrats concede that they’re worried about complacency as the race moves into the final months. One longtime Biden ally said there is a fear that some voters feel the former vice president could win by default because there is such animosity directed at Trump.
The Biden campaign is hoping that speeches from former first lady Michelle Obama and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) on Monday night will help motivate voters.
“Yes, things are going well now, but complacency is our worst nightmare,” the Biden ally said. “We all thought Hillary [Clinton] was going to win in 2016 and we were wrong. We can’t let that happen again.”
To that point, Trump’s approval rating ticked up to 42 percent from 38 percent in June, according to a Gallup survey.
Trump is also seeking to go on the offensive by hitting the campaign trail in Minnesota and Wisconsin on Monday with a stop in each state. With Democrats holding a virtual convention that was once scheduled for Milwaukee, the Trump campaign is also debuting “Where’s Joe?” billboards around the state.
“With Biden’s decision not to attend his own convention, he continues the streak that a Democrat Party presidential nominee has not campaigned in Wisconsin since 2012,” Samantha Zager, the deputy national press secretary for the Trump campaign, said in an email.
Democrats say they made the right decision to host the campaign remotely, using the coronavirus as one of their major themes of the week to demonstrate Trump's lack of leadership during the pandemic.
Unlike 2016 when tensions ran high between supporters of Sanders and those of Democratic nominee Clinton, Democrats say they are more united.
“There’s very little infighting and the party is united to end Trump’s presidency and get our country back on track,” said Mike Nellis, a consultant who ran Harris’s digital operation and whose firm Authentic Campaigns is heading up digital operations for Senate candidates.
“Grassroots fundraising has been electric for the last week. … This week is all about cementing that momentum. showing the contrast between Biden-Harris and Trump-Pence and an introduction to the future of the Democratic Party," Nellis said.
Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.), who headed up the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, said the Democrats’ “number one imperative" for the convention has been going into it with unity.
“They’ve succeeded remarkably well,” Israel said.