Democrats hope restoring Obama’s ‘big tent’ coalition will unseat Donald Trump

Convention featuring speakers from right and left shows plan to woo broad range of voters

Representative Gwen Moore, a Democrat from Wisconsin, center, speaks during the virtual Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S., on Monday, Aug. 17, 2020. The DNC, which begins today and ends Thursday with Joe Biden accepting the nomination for president, will be almost entirely virtual with speakers delivering addresses from around the U.S. that will be streamed on the internet. Photographer: Morry Gash/AP Photo/Bloomberg
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In its first online convention, the Democratic Party hopes reweaving the coalition tapestry that helped to have Barack Obama elected twice to the White House will lead Joe Biden to defeat Donald Trump in November.

The emphasis on rebuilding a broad coalition of interests, or what Obama supporters called his "big tent", was evident from the outset of the Democratic National Convention on Monday night.

Representation for US minorities is threaded throughout planned events at the four-day meeting.

Latina activist and actress Eva Longoria hosted the event on Monday.

George Floyd’s family will remember the man whose killing by white police officers in Minneapolis triggered massive anti-racism protests across the US.

And former Asian-American candidate Andrew Yang will have a prominent spot before Mr Biden, a former vice president, accepts his nomination on Thursday.

Other attempts to bring in the left wing of the party included an impassioned plea from Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday for his supporters to avoid a repeat of 2016, where some of them did not turn out for Hillary Clinton.

The Co-operative Congressional Election Study, showed 12 per cent of people who voted for Mr Sanders in the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries voted for Mr Trump in the general election.

On the other side of the political spectrum, Republicans abandoning the Trump ship were represented by former Ohio governor John Kasich and former chief executive of HP and eBay, Meg Whitman.

"I am a lifelong Republican but that attachment holds second place to my responsibility to my country,” Mr Kasich said in a speech to delegates on Monday.

One expert, however, is questioning Mr Biden’s ability to bring together such a coalition.

"It is a strange looking campaign," Joseph Campbell, a professor at American University, told The National.

Dr Campbell said a lack of enthusiasm and visibility for Mr Biden were hurdles in restoring the big tent.

“Whether that can be accomplished is up in the air,” he said.

Mr Biden has opted to run most of his campaign online during the pandemic, drawing contrasts with Mr Trump, who is holding outside rallies and regular press briefings.

Dr Campbell compared the Biden campaign to that of Thomas Dewey in 1948, which that was mostly subdued. Dewey lost to Harry Truman that year.

But a CNN poll this week gave Mr Biden, for the first time in the campaign, an edge in voter enthusiasm over Mr Trump.

Michelle Obama insists Trump is wrong president

Michelle Obama insists Trump is wrong president

Of the 72 per cent of voters who said they are either extremely or very enthusiastic about voting this autumn, Mr Biden took 53 per cent to Trump’s 46 per cent on their intentions.

It is a margin that the Democrats are hoping to boost through the convention.

Former first lady Michelle Obama’s speech on Monday, despite being prerecorded, urged high turnout in swing states that fell short for Hillary Clinton in 2016.

“If we have any hope of ending this chaos, we have got to vote for Joe Biden like our lives depend on it,” Ms Obama told viewers

“We have got to vote like we did in 2008 and 2012. We’ve got to show up with the same level of passion and hope."

A Politico-Morning Consult Poll this week showed the Obamas are favoured by 91 per cent of Democrats, so organisers are hoping her message will help to increase voter turnout on November 3.

The convention line-up is built around defining Mr Biden and generating enthusiasm for him beyond his being the anti-Trump candidate.

On Tuesday, his wife Jill Biden, former president Bill Clinton and New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio Cortez will address the convention.

Mr Obama, vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton will speak on Wednesday.

The last night on Thursday will officially nominate Mr Biden.

Dr Campbell warned that no campaign is like another and in a year of a pandemic and social unrest in the US, it is hard to predict the outcome or trust the polls at this point.