19:03 GMT30 September 2020
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    The Democratic National Convention will kick off in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on Monday night, with the four-day event where Democrats formally select their nominee expected to be held mostly online this year due to coronavirus-related health fears. The state is also a key battleground, which Donald Trump won by less than 23,000 votes in 2016.

    The historically unprecedented health fears associated with the coronavirus and the decision to hold the Democratic National Convention in an online, virtual format may result in an absence of some much-needed enthusiasm for presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden and his campaign come November, says Chad Banghart, executive director of the Committee to Defend the President, a pro-Trump political action committee.

    “The convention traditionally represents the revving of the candidate’s engine, especially for the opposition party. However, this year is different: With voters tuning in remotely, the Democratic Convention won't see the same excitement of the past, especially because Joe Biden fails to inspire any enthusiasm among liberal voters. The Biden campaign is unlikely to receive the poll bump they're desperately looking for following the convention,” he suggests.

    Banghart is confident that Trump will win Wisconsin and its 10 electoral votes come November 3 because of a superior ground game.

    “[The Trump campaign] are actively campaigning in the state to meet Wisconsinites on the ground and fire up their conservative base. As of next week, Vice President Pence will have been to Wisconsin at least six times, while President Trump will visit to highlight the many successes of his administration. Joe Biden, on the other hand, has yet to step foot inside the state,” Banghart points out.

    Trump’s anti-establishment rhetoric and his conservative policies are also expected to help him when it comes to important swing states like Wisconsin, Arizona and Pennsylvania, Banghart believes.

    Dr. Eric Heberlig, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, similarly questions just how much of an impact holding the Democratic Convention in a swing state like Wisconsin will have.

    “Conventions historically have not helped the party win the state in which it is held,” Heberlig explained in a written commentary to Sputnik.

    “But part of that is due to the fact that parties historically did not choose swing states to host the convention or have events along with the convention that would help them mobilize local voters.  Over the last decade, parties have chosen host states to host their conventions but it still hasn't made much of a difference in who wins the state.  The main reason is that there are many other factors that influence people's votes that are more important to them. Likewise, the people who pay closest attention to the conventions are the people who strongly support the party to begin with,” he added.

    Conventions do give the residents of the state and community in which they live extra coverage, and do have the potential to excite local party members to volunteer and get the word out, though, Heberlig noted.

    Overall, the academic expects Wisconsin to be “very close” this cycle, just as it was in 2016, with both campaigns expected to “devote a lot of attention and advertising to the state to try to win it.”

    In 2017, in a postmortem on her campaign, former Democratic Nominee Hillary Clinton said she was surprised by the loss of Wisconsin to Trump (the state had voted Democrat every year since 1984) but dismissed criticism that her lack of campaigning in the Midwest helped cost her the election, and insisted that she hadn’t “ignored” the region.

    Dr. Ross Baker, a political science professor at Rutgers University in New Jersey, also believes the political bump the Democrats get from holding their convention in the Midwest state will be limited thanks to the coronavirus.

    “Wisconsin will not gain very much from a convention that will be almost entirely online,” Baker suggests. “There will be some party business meetings in Milwaukee but the important speeches by the most prominent people will be delivered from various spots around the country. Almost none of them will originate in Milwaukee.”

    Instead, Baker says, the battle for Wisconsin will take place on the ground, with the Democrats looking to increase their support among African Americans and young people, while the Republicans search out support in rural areas.

    The Democratic National Convention is expected to kick off Monday at 9 pm Eastern Standard Time and run through Thursday, with major Democratic Party speakers ranging from former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama to former President Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary scheduled to appear.

    Monday’s speakers will include Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, Biden’s erstwhile chief rival for the Democratic nomination, as well as New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, former Ohio Governor and anti-Trump Republican John Kasich, and Michelle Obama.

    The Republicans will hold their own convention in Charlotte, North Carolina August 24-27. Like the Democrats, Republicans have canceled most of the convention and moved it mostly online amid fears over the coronavirus.

    The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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