I'll write more about Michelle Obama's speech last night in a bit, but Day 2 of the DNC is underway. The daily Arkansas/New Mexico breakfast was opened by a truly exceptional prayer by state Senator Joyce Elliott
of Little Rock. (I'm working on something else on the politics of prayer at this DNC and I'll try to pass along part of her text there.)
The featured speakers for the morning were New Mexico U.S. Senator Tom Udall
and his tennis buddy, Democratic pollster Peter Hart
. One of the major policy unifiers between the Clinton and Sanders camps is the issue of campaign finance reform, including the overturning of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, and Udall emphasized his work on that issue in the Senate. He then turned things over to Hart, who noted the importance of conventions on general election outcomes. Going back to 1964, Hart noted, when one party has had a unified convention and the other a messy convention, the party with the unified convention has won. (This feels a bit like a chicken-and-the-egg issue, but I won't go all social science-y on his analysis here.)
Hart said that three things need to be emphasized in the coming days at the DNC and in the months ahead to ensure a Democratic victory in November, considering the electorate desires change.
First, Democrats must tell the story of "who [Clinton]'s always been" on the issues of standing up for children and working families, as well as her deep personal relationships: It's crucial to "come back and find the original Hillary Clinton," rather than the caricature she's become, according to Hart. Second, he emphasized what a benefit — and how exceptional — President Barack Obama's rise in public approval has been. The key issue to hit home for Democrats is what great work Obama has done in bringing back the U.S. economy; that will aid Clinton as she battles Donald Trump, an opponent who presently is seen by voters as more adept at handling the economy. (Much of last night's DNC speeches emphasized his failings with Trump University and his outsourcing of production of his branded products.)
Finally, Hart compared Trump's popularity to a paper bag holding water. Almost daily, new charges are put into the bag that raise public doubts about Trump. In Hart's view, when it all begins to resonate with the American public, it won't seep through; instead, the bottom of the bag will drop out. The question is the timing of that. As Hart put it, "within four months, he'll leave America for a younger country." Does that happen before or after the election? Timing will determine Trump's fortunes in 2016.
While breakfasts for other delegations across Philadelphia have turned into fairly loud affairs that indicate some of the lingering unrest among Sanders delegates, things have been peaceful at the combined Arkansas/New Mexico breakfasts. The big question is whether the frustration exhibited within the California and Texas groups
will continue to show itself on the floor of the convention. Other questions moving forward: Can Bill Clinton keep himself from responding to the inevitable chants criticizing his wife that he will hear tonight? And what about Thursday evening? Will all be at least superficially peaceful by then, or will Sanders supporters try to disrupt Hillary Clinton's big night?