A Look at the Democratic National Convention

Ahead of the convention in Philadelphia, professional in residence and President of Nordlinger Associates Gary Nordlinger explains what we should expect.

Gary Nordlinger discusses the Democratic National Convention.
July 25, 2016
The Republican National Convention ended last week, and now Democrats are preparing for their own convention in Philadelphia. The schedule includes speakers such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Elizabeth Warren, set to help Hillary Clinton become the next president. Below, the Graduate School of Political Management’s Gary Nordlinger tells George Washington Today what to keep an eye out for during the event. 
Q: It seems like the Democratic Convention will have less drama than the Republican Convention.
A: Well, the Wikileaks of DNC emails conspiring against Senator Bernie Sanders do not help. However, there are no potential "dump Hillary" rules fights, questions about whether Senator Sanders will endorse Secretary Clinton or fears of civil disobedience in the streets.
The GOP convention looks like it had slightly better TV ratings than in 2012. I am very curious to see whether the "lack of drama" hurts ratings for the Democratic convention.
Q: The theme of the first night is "United Together." How are the Democrats hoping to present a united front?
A: Monday night will feature Senator Sanders, First Lady Michelle Obama and immigration activist Astrid Silva. I'd expect Senator Sanders to repeat the populist themes he used in the primaries, but this time explain why Senator Clinton will fight for them and Donald Trump will not. My guess is First Lady Michelle Obama will reflect on her eight years in the White House, what they have accomplished and why Secretary Clinton has the warmth, compassion and ideas to best move the country forward.
Q: Other speakers include Barack Obama, Joe Biden, Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Warren. What can we expect to see from these speakers and how might they generate support for Hillary?
A: President Obama and Vice President Biden are likely to give farewell speeches, discussing the challenges they faced and the successes they achieved. Of course, they will also stress the personal and intellectual qualities that best qualify Secretary Clinton for the presidency. I'd expect a "firebrand" speech from Senator Warren to fire up the viewers and a very tender, personal speech from President Clinton about his wife's lifetime of hard work for children, families, minorities and the disadvantaged. After all, Secretary Clinton was active with the Children's Defense Fund long before most of us ever heard of it.
Q: Major topics of discussion on the schedule include immigration and a session with Mothers of the Movement. How can Hillary align herself with these issues to attract Latino and black voters?
A: Secretary Clinton and the Democrats are already aligned with most Latino and black voters. In 2004, John Kerry received 88 percent of the black vote, and in 2012 Barack Obama received 93 percent. President Obama also received 71 percent of the Latino vote in 2012.
Q: How will vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine impact the ticket?
A: The choice of vice president is the first major decision a potential president makes. The two most important criteria are choosing someone qualified to become president and someone who will not prove to be an embarrassment. From the sound of it, the Clinton team did an incredibly thorough job of vetting the finalists so Senator Kaine is a good bet. Also, it is clear they like each other so the positive chemistry should prove an asset. And they have nearly identical positions on the issues. Senator Kaine has a sunny, likeable personality and he does not sound mean when he criticizes Mr. Trump. He knows how to stay on message and not upstage Secretary Clinton.
Q: Do you think Hillary will have a successful convention?
A: We will know when the polling comes out after the conclusion. According to the Gallup Organization, the average “convention bounce” has been 3.8 percent in the five conventions from 1996 to 2012. In the national polls done just before the start of the Republican convention, Secretary Clinton had an average lead of about 2 percent. If her lead grows to 6 percent or more, then she had a successful convention.