President Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden have emerged from their presidential nominating conventions with every candidate believing he has a head of steam. Trump’s job approval scores and standing in polls are perilously low for an incumbent, however Biden and different Democrats vividly bear in mind 2016, when Trump made an against-all-odds October comeback and defeated Hillary Clinton.
Five key questions as the 2020 campaign strikes towards the fall house stretch:
WHAT WILL A COVID-19 CAMPAIGN LOOK LIKE?
Expect a flurry of journey and speeches as the candidates spend the next 9 weeks desperately attempting to maneuver the needle and win new votes in opposition to the backdrop of a world pandemic.
Trump is ready to launch an aggressive journey schedule with a number of occasions every week, in line with advisers. After an area rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, early this summer time drew a paltry crowd, his campaign has settled on a brand new format in the age of the coronavirus: packing smaller crowds into open-air airport hangars. The campaign has additionally been handing out masks at its occasions and, on Friday, informed attendees they might be obligatory, per native rules. He’s additionally planning a sequence of coverage speeches and is anticipated to proceed to make use of the powers of his workplace — together with signing govt orders and issuing pardons — to assist his prospects.
Biden is planning to ramp up journey to battleground states after Labor Day after spending most of the spring and summer time at his house in Wilmington, Delaware, holding largely digital occasions, with solely occasional journey to tightly managed gatherings. Campaign co-chair Cedric Richmond mentioned the former vp will probably be energetic however emphasised that Biden’s occasions nonetheless will comply with public well being tips. That means no indoor, crowded rallies and many mask-wearing. Expect loads of roundtables, meet-and-greets and question-and-answer periods. If there are bigger gatherings, the drive-in watch occasion exterior Biden’s nomination acceptance deal with might be the blueprint.
WHOSE VERSION OF THE OTHER CONVINCES MORE VOTERS?
Trump will proceed attempting to win again suburban, feminine and older voters, and win over independents and individuals who didn’t vote 4 years in the past, by portray the election as a stark selection between legislation and order and anarchy and between a radical, socialist takeover and financial prosperity. Never thoughts that Biden has spent many years in the political institution and California Sen. Kamala Harris, his working mate, is a former prosecutor. Trump will use each scare tactic he can muster.
If his 2016 race is any indication, count on Trump to launch a scorched-earth technique if he feels he’s shedding come October. Realizing his solely shot then was to drive up Clinton’s unfavorable scores to match his personal, Trump’s campaign used each trick they might consider, together with inviting ladies who accused Bill Clinton of rape and undesirable sexual advances to look at one among the debates.
Attacks on Biden’s household? Accusations he’s drugged up or senile? There is not any line Trump gained’t cross to win.
Biden will proceed to hammer Trump as a basic menace to democracy and attempt to make the case that the president is a egocentric, corrupt determine incapable of empathy. Biden will promote himself as a gradual, skilled hand with a progressive coverage agenda on points together with local weather motion and prison justice — simply not as progressive as Trump tries to make him when he blasts Biden as the entrance man for a “radical” takeover.
Biden’s campaign believes that he’s sufficient of a identified amount that voters past Trump’s base merely gained’t purchase the president’s descriptions of the former vp. If they’re proper, they see Trump’s base-driven campaign as one which opens up a large coalition — from progressives who aren’t in love with Biden to anti-Trump moderates Republicans — for the Democratic ticket.
CORONAVIRUS AND AN OCTOBER SURPRISE?
Biden has outlined his White House bid from the begin as an ethical and competency case in opposition to Trump. The COVID-19 pandemic has solely intensified the strategy. Biden’s campaign believes there’s no cowl for Trump with the coronavirus loss of life toll surpassing 180,000 and climbing, instances nearing the 6 million mark, unemployment hovering in double digits and Congress at an deadlock on additional financial help.
In remarks Thursday earlier than Trump’s nomination acceptance speech, Harris summarized the campaign’s considering: “Trump’s incompetence is nothing new,” she mentioned, “but in January of this year, it became deadly.” She mentioned the incumbent “failed at the most basic and important job of a president … to protect us.”
Trump is hoping for a late growth that might be a campaign game-changer: The launch of a vaccine that may mark the starting of the finish of the pandemic on his watch, earlier than Americans vote. His administration has been doing all the things it may possibly to speed up the course of, together with hyping new therapeutics, even when it’s not clear they work. “We’ll produce a vaccine before the end of the year, or maybe even sooner,” he mentioned in his conference keynote. It’s unclear, nevertheless, whether or not science can ship on his timetable.
HOW IMPORTANT ARE THE DEBATES?
The conventions largely succeeded in fulfilling each campaigns’ aims, so the debates — scheduled for Sept. 29, Oct. 15 and Oct. 22 — will probably be the most high-profile alternatives for the candidates to focus on contrasts, animate core supporters and cajole the small however vital slice of persuadable voters.
Biden and his workforce say they relish the concept of confronting Trump head to head. “The debates will give the V.P. the chance to call Trump on all of his B.S.,” Richmond mentioned.
It additionally will probably be one other probability for the 77-year-old Democrat to work to dismantle Trump’s framing that Biden is just too previous for the job. Richmond mentioned that narrative might backfire on Trump, himself a 74-year-old who often mangles syntax and presents meandering solutions.
Some in Trump’s camp appear to agree. After months of attempting to forged Biden as feeble and mentally diminished, they’re now speaking up Biden’s skills as a method to attempt to decrease expectations on Trump’s aspect.
“Joe Biden is really good at debates,” Trump campaign adviser Jason Miller has been saying, portraying Biden as rather more expert than Hillary Clinton.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO HAVE A WINNER?
It may not be on election evening.
The campaigns and nationwide events are engaged in lawsuits throughout many states, arguing over guidelines for absentee voting amid the pandemic, and that litigation might proceed if outcomes are shut on Nov. 3.
Republicans and Democrats alike are pushing their supporters to ask for absentee mail ballots, whilst Trump continues to query the integrity of the election earlier than a single vote is forged.
Don’t count on that panorama to alter between now and Election Day — and even for a number of weeks afterward. Trump has refused to say whether or not he’ll settle for the outcomes if he loses, and Clinton has warned Biden to not concede if the election is remotely shut.
One factor is evident, although: The Constitution units Inauguration Day as Jan. 20, and barring catastrophic developments, both Trump or Biden will take the oath of workplace that day.