The Republican Convention starts on Monday. Can it alter the momentum in the race?

The Republican Convention starts on Monday. Can it alter the momentum in the race?
Source: David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

With the Democratic Convention now concluded, it is now the turn of Republicans to make the case to the American people for why President Donald Trump should be reelected.

The Democratic Convention was largely seen as a success despite its having to go virtual for the first time ever due to the coronavirus. Whether Republicans will manage to pull the tactic off remains to be seen.

Originally set to take place in Charlotte, North Carolina in front of a crowd of spectators, the Republican Convention is now slated to commence in a remote-in person hybrid after the state rebuffed Republican efforts to schedule a full slate of events there.

According to reports, much of what Americans see this upcoming week will consist of TV events featuring speakers at the White House, although delegates selected to officially nominate Trump as the Republican candidate will do so in person in Charlotte. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected to be in attendance.

Unlike the schedule for the Democratic Convention, which saw a host of diverse speakers from across the political spectrum with Biden only speaking at length on the final day, President Trump is expected to speak on all four days at the Republican Convention.

Republicans are coming into their convention without momentum on their side.

As per polling averages from FiveThirtyEight, which aggregates state and national polling to derive an overall snapshot of the race, Biden currently enjoys a 9.2% lead in the polls, his largest since mid-July.

Despite Trump’s assertions that polling numbers showing Biden ahead are fake and are again failing to adequately account for his support, other Republicans acknowledge that they are going into the convention at a disadvantage. In late July, Vice Media spoke with half a dozen Republican strategists and none of them reportedly put Trump’s chances of reclaiming the White House above 35%.

“Things are pretty bad,” said one unnamed strategist at the time. “If Trump doesn’t turn things around, we’ve got real problems,” they added.

Spotlight on Trump and his family

While the final schedule of convention events for Republicans was still being finalized as of this writing, it has been confirmed that two longtime producers of The Apprentice – the Reality TV show credited with helping to make Trump into a household name – are helping direct the events.

According to Trump, the Republican Convention will also be presented live as opposed to having events be prerecorded, which is what Democrats largely did.

According to Jeff Nussbaum and Kate Childs Graham, two Democratic speech writers, there were 49 live speeches during the Democratic Convention and nearly 300 recorded ones.

Another significant way the Republican Convention might differ from the Democratic Convention is in the background of its speakers.

Although the roster of speakers includes many high-ranking Republican officials – including former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – it is also reported that members of the Trump family will have significant speaking time. Speeches from Melania Trump, Ivanka Trump, Eric Trump, Tiffany Trump and Donald Trump Jr. are all expected.

In addition, several individuals who have gained attention for their high-profile roles in the nation’s culture wars will also make an appearance, including Patricia and Mark McCloskey, the couple from St. Louis who were filmed pointing weapons at Black Lives Matter protesters outside their property in June.

Chance to turn things around?

According to reporting from Phillip Rucker and Dan Balz, two senior political reporters for The Washington Post, Trump comes into the convention with the “urgent mission” of convincing voters that he deserves another four years in office despite the country’s struggles with COVID-19, a severe economic recession and racial upheaval.

While the president has largely shown a penchant for rhetoric that relies heavily on doom and gloom, Republicans are reportedly going to showcase optimism at the event in an attempt to show Americans that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Recent national polling shows that American optimism is at historic lows, suggesting that Trump could have an uphill battle winning over undecided voters. According to data from Gallup recorded from June 30 to August 12, just 13% of Americans are satisfied with the way things are going in the country, some of the lowest numbers since the Great Recession in 2008 and 2009.

According to Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, Trump will put forward the idea that his administration can beat the pandemic and revive the economy, while Biden just wants to “keep us locked in our basements.”

Democrats are planning to push back on these assertions throughout the week and are reportedly ready to counter with evidence that they say represents Republican negligence regarding the country’s biggest challenges.

For Tom Perez, the leader of the Democratic National Committee, it’s the Democrats who represent hope in the face of uncertainty and all the Republicans can offer under Trump is “chaos, chaos, chaos.”

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