April 6, 2020
The Democrats are “Biden” their time—postponing their convention and presidential nomination process by one month to allow them to “germinate” ideas and policies instead of COVID-19.
Specifically, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is pushing back the party’s convention in Milwaukee, from July 13 to August 17, the week before the Republican Party’s convention, Politico reports.
The delay came after likely nominee Joe Biden publicly called for the convention to be rescheduled in response to the coronavirus pandemic. And it followed weeks of behind-the-scenes discussions with party leaders and the campaigns of the two remaining presidential candidates, Biden and Senator Bernie Sanders.
“I’m confident our convention planning team and our partners will find a way to deliver a convention in Milwaukee this summer that places our Democratic nominee on the path to victory in November,” convention CEO Joe Solmonese said in a statement on April 2.
In addition to postponing, DNC officials are discussing ways to scale back the convention, Politico reports. The committee is not flush with cash and wants to avoid the appearance of throwing a big party in the midst of a severe economic downturn.
While there has been talk about having a virtual convention, party officials and Biden—the presumptive nominee —would like to have a live event as long as it can be done safely, according to sources within the DNC and one with Biden’s campaign.
“Joe earned this, and we do want something to mark that, but it’s really complicated,” the Biden campaign source said.
The new date would put the Democratic National Convention back-to-back with its Republican counterpart, which is set to begin August 24 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The proximity in time presents messaging challenges for both sides: Biden will not have as much time to enjoy a potential polling bounce before the Republican National Convention begins dominating coverage. And Republicans will not have as much time to plan out responses to speeches and events in Milwaukee.
The new dates also complicate the Biden campaign’s financial situation, because it will not be able to access general election funds until August instead of July. Biden has relied more on wealthy donors who gave the maximum amount than Bernie Sanders did. But the former vice president isn’t legally allowed to access the portion of those contributions dedicated to the general election until he’s officially the nominee.
The coronavirus has undoubtedly taken a toll on Biden’s fundraising just as he was starting to pull in record sums for his campaign. However, Biden’s campaign staff was relatively small for a de facto nominee because of his earlier struggles with fundraising, so the campaign was used to subsisting on less than its rivals, Politico says.
Biden aides said the campaign has saved additional money during the coronavirus crisis because it scaled back on advertising, didn’t go on a hiring binge and doesn’t have to pay the overhead of a traditional campaign as the candidate and staff shelter in place.
“It’s amazing how much you save if you don’t put on rallies and have to fly across the country every day,” an adviser said.
Another Biden campaign official said the new dynamic was manageable. “We can still raise and spend primary money up to the time we are the nominee, and we can raise (and not spend) general money,” the official said. “This is about when the 2008 convention took place, and it didn’t hurt us.”
Research contact: @politico