Welcome to our weekly analysis of the state of the campaign in 2020.
The week in numbers
21.8 million According to Nielsen, people watched Biden's big night at the convention on Thursday on television, slightly more than the 21 million which saw former President Barack Obama and Senator Kamala Harris, Mr. Biden's running mate, on Wednesday. The TV audience for the nominee's speech was about 21 percent lower than Hillary Clinton's four years ago, although many people were watching online.
A new opinion poll set up President Trump's approval review 42 percent. The Americans' approval for his way of dealing with the economy – typically his forte – was 48 percent, roughly even with his June numbers, but 15 percentage points of his career high in the winter, just before the pandemic hit.
The pollsters usually paused their work during the convention, waiting for things to play out before rereading the country. But at the beginning of the week three divorce opinion polls respected outlets showed Biden Trump on average with eight points.
Pick me up
The Democrats breathed a collective sigh of relief this week after the party hosted an all-virtual convention, half-political video clip, and half-Joe Biden infomercial, largely without a hitch.
And whether you liked the content of Mr. Biden's acceptance speech or weren't impressed by his message, one thing was clear: he exceeded the low expectations partially set by his opponent in the general election.
The Republican Party's Joe Biden's story is a blunder machine whose age hasn't allowed him to speak clearly, a caricature made up of months-long tweets from Mr. Trump, dozens of interviews by his allies, and nightly roasts by popular conservatives. media figures. The Joe Biden many Americans saw this week was brightened up and able to command an audience, albeit reading from a teleprompter in a room that was mostly empty.
If that's a low bar, it's because Mr. Trump and some of his most prominent allies have helped lower it.
The Trump Campaign and the Expectation Game
Outside advisers have tried to warn Mr. Trump that he should raise expectations for his opponents and lower them for himself. But that hasn't stopped the president from boasting to people that he expects the fall debates to be a devastating experience for his adversary. Trump was keen to act as an underdog four years ago, but this time his campaign has tried to project an image of dominance, in ways that aren't always helpful.
At the President's meeting in Tulsa, Oklahoma in June, Brad Parscale, Trump's former campaign manager, violated an important rule of politics: Underestimate the size of the public to avoid overdelivery. Instead, he made Mr. Trump look silly when just 6,200 people showed up for an event that had one million ticket requests, according to Parscale.
Instead of talking about how Mr. Biden could be a formidable opponent on the debating stage, Mr. Trump and his advisers have usually done the opposite. Donald Trump Jr., the president's eldest son, recently claimed there was "active pressure to get Joe Biden not to argue with my father" over concerns that he was unable to handle the matchup.
Jason Miller, a campaign strategist, has tried to change course about how the Trump team frame Mr. Biden. "Joe Biden is actually a really good debater," he told The Washington Post this month. But after all of Mr. Biden's disdain, a lonely comment from an employee did little to reset the story.
Biden is aiming for the center, not the left
The speakers at the Democratic convention had an adventurous element. Senators Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts made policy matters, while current and former Republicans advocated decency. But throughout the week, there was a clear emphasis on winning over ideological moderates and Trump skeptical voters – a priority of conviction over grassroots gathering.
John Kasich, a Republican and former Ohio Governor, expressed fears that Mr Biden would rule in the interests of the left of the party. "I'm sure there are Republicans and independents who couldn't imagine crossing over to support a Democrat," he said. & # 39; They fear that Joe will slap sharply to the left and leave them behind. I do not believe that. Because I know the man's size – fair, loyal, respectful. And you know, nobody pushes Joe around. "
Mr. Biden drew up his acceptance speech to run explicitly from bias. “While I will be a Democratic candidate, I will be a US president,” he said. "I will work just as hard for those who didn't support me as I did for those who did."
During the convention, a key Biden adviser voiced the idea of deficit spending on new programs. In a interview with The Wall Street Journalsaid former Delaware Senator Ted Kaufman, who oversees Mr. in addition to virus control spending, "we will be limited."
What will the Republican Congress look like?
The Biden granddaughters were nice. Shorter speeches were effective. The travelogue made for a strangely good TV. And the Republicans' answer & # 39; Where's Hunter? & # 39; battle cry with a video testimony of the once wayward Biden son was treated subtly.
Those were concessions that Trump advisers and former White House officials handed over to the Democratic National Committee after it hosted the first-ever virtual convention, even as they questioned the week's overall message.
The question is: how do they surpass that? The answer may be that it is difficult.
Republican officials wasted time that could have been used to plan a highly produced semi-virtual convention by trying – much longer than the Democrats – to keep a normal convention. Trump scrapped plans for an in-person convention in Jacksonville, Florida, just a month before the event was due to take place.
Rather than handing over the reins to an experienced television producer, Mr. Trump tries to weigh much of the programming himself, usually with the help of people from his own White House. And he insists that it still looks like a & # 39; real convention & # 39; on television, i.e. with an audience component, and that he plays an important role himself every night.
The four evenings of the D.N.C. show the diversity of the Democratic Party is also increasing pressure on the Republican National Committee and Mr. Trump to do more than just appeal to disadvantaged white voters. Republican officials plan to spotlight Mark and Patricia McCloskey, the white St. Louis couple who waved guns at Black Lives Matter protesters in June. Will they have a message for people other than the hard core of the president?
What you may have missed
Giovanni Russonello contributed to the reporting.