What We Learned from the Conventions

in Election 2016/US and Canada by

The conventions are done, the candidates are back on the trail and this is the state of play.

He’s Kaine, He’s Sore, He’s Bonkers

Senator Tim Kaine is an unsurprisingly safe choice for VP. He toes the party line on abortion, despite his personal qualms, and speaks fluent Spanish, which will hammer home the Latino vote. Trump rushed to Twitter to swiftly rebuke Clinton’s pick and claimed that he introduced unpopular tax rises in New Jersey, despite him governing Virginia.

It is an excellent choice from the Clinton campaign, despite some suggesting Cory Booker or Julian Castro as party unifying tickets. It hammers home the ‘safe hands’ message and, although he isn’t an attack dog, has the fight in him to take Trump down a few pegs.

For the Republicans, Governor Mike Pence is an interesting choice. Chris Christie was clearly unhappy with the choice, saying that Trump needed someone with real governing experience. Pence has three years to Christie’s six however, more importantly to Trump’s campaign, Pence unifies the party.

Pence is the standard anti-abortion, anti-immigration, anti-gay and pro-gun old white businessman so there are no surprises there.

Bernie Supporters Could Lose Clinton the Election

Sander’s ‘political revolution’ has out grown him. He represented the left of the democrats, radical independents and the disaffected millennials who want dramatic change and profited from their support, giving Clinton a run for her money. However, even Bernie, who had previously called Clinton ‘unquaified’ to be president, recognises that it’s either her or Trump and so through his weight behind the Democratic nominee. This culminated in him tabling a change to the procedural rules to nominate Hillary, a gesture which Clinton herself made in 2008 when trying to unite the party behind Obama.

Despite this, the #BernieOrBust crowd booed their hero and stormed out the convention hall when Clinton was nominated.

The Democrats are in a unique position. One would imagine that with Trump being one of the most polarising candidates in US Presidential history, Hillary’s team would have made sure the convention focused on winning floating voters in the centre of the spectrum. However, because of the tantrums of the left of the party, resources had to be diverted to giving a progressive programme of speeches. Whilst this isn’t a bad thing, it could set a precedent for the campaign focusing on the left of the democrats rather than the centre of the American spectrum, which could make less radical voters stay at home, giving Trump the White House.

Whilst Trump’s post-convention bounce has put him ahead in some polls, Clinton would still be expected to win if the election was today. However, she isn’t doing too well in the polls at swing states and could suffer if moderates stay at home in November. If Bernie supporters do flock to Jill Stein, despite her efforts to appeal to more progressive liberals, then she could be in real trouble.

Trump’s Bounce Isn’t Where He Needs It

Trump’s post-convention bounce gave him a lead over Clinton in some national polls. However Clinton now leads in the polls in every swing state. Clinton has a 7 point lead in Pennsylvania, a 4 point lead in Nevada, a 3 point lead in Iowa and New Hampshire and a narrow lead in Florida.

Despite local chairs predicting moderate republicans and Reagan democrats to switch sides, the scene is pretty damning for Trump. His unfavourable ratings are over 60% in seven key battleground states, where he currently struggles to break 40% of the vote.

So at least there’s that.

Bill’s Speech Won’t Go Down in History but it Could Change It

Whilst one force within the democrat camp is on a mission to disrupt Clinton, a force of a very different kind has come in to support his wife.

The first of the half of his speech received mixed reactions with some saying it wasn’t feminist. However it wasn’t trying to make a feminist point, as his job was to soften Hillary’s image and try to remind people that their relationship is one built on love and not a political dynasty. The DNC email hack and recent party funding revelations necessitated a reminder that Hillary is a person and if that meant dropping the glass-ceiling-breaking-political-stalwart message a bit so be it.

It also showed that Bill is now going to play a more supporting role to Hillary on the campaign trail. He had been criticised for using his stage time to defend his own record. This could be a good sign for the Hillary campaign, as Bill has a unique rapport with voters which still survives today.

Chris Christie’s Audition for VP Isn’t Over

After becoming an internet meme on Super Tuesday, Chris Christie’s election year went from bad to worse. He is clearly unhappy about not being Trump’s running mate after selling his soul by endorsing him.

What made him so unique was, as he was a red governor in a blue state, his ability to reach across the aisle to work on legislation. He has often been criticised for this by more staunch Republicans, for example the Obama hug fiasco, which made his endorsement of an immensely polarising candidate so surprising.

Rudy v Cory: The Gulf Between the Parties

The different messages of the conventions can be summed up in two speeches: former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s and Junior Senator from New Jersey Cory Booker’s.

Giuliani was New York’s 9/11 Mayor and he gave a fiery speech on America’s security and how black lives matter. I must admit that on my first viewing, I just thought he had lost his mind but it turned out it was exemplary of the Republicans’ message. He ran for president and was the favourite to win the nomination in 2008, running off of the strength of his gnarling tone which lowered crime rates in New York in the 90s. He spun his humble brag into an endorsement by saying that ‘I turned New York City into America’s safest city’ and ‘what I did for New York, Donald Trump will do for America!’

On the other hand was Cory Booker, who gave a sermon about brotherly love to an adoring crowd. He has long been the apple of progressives’ eyes and, as Trump says, is the future of the Democratic Party. He gave a stirring speech about love, surpassing even Obama’s levels of ‘hopemongering’ in 2008.

Despite the RNC focusing on security, the democrats mentioned ISIS more (15/13) and no one planning to make Trump the commander in chief can claim they are the party of defence. The democrats focus on hope, especially with Clinton breaking the glass-ceiling, which can sometimes stray into vacuous slogans. With this being an election focused on personality, I doubt this will have much of an impact on the race.

Delegates Can’t Dance

Yeah we’re going to need to work on that.

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