Here’s what we learned from the first day of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte.
1. The Democrats are no longer afraid of “Obamacare.” In 2010, many congressional candidates refused to campaign on the massive health care law the president spent much of his tenure getting to pass. But on Tuesday, speaker after speaker touted the merits of the law, illustrating confidence in what might be Obama’s chief domestic policy achievement.
2. Women, young people and Hispanics are a huge part of Obama’s coalition. Some of the speakers were not typical for a national party convention, such as Kal Penn, the young actor who briefly worked in the White House, and Celise Richards, head of Planned Parenthood. Their appearances, as well as the keynote speech by San Antonia Mayor Julian Castro, underscored how much Obama needs women, voters between 18-29 and Hispanics to turn out and support him the way they did in 2008.
Polling suggests enthusiasm among Hispanics and voters ages 18-29 is significantly down from 2008, a potential problem for the president.
3. Democrats are fully behind gay marriage
Michelle Obama’s speech included an explicit reference to the president’s support of gay marriage, an issue Obama had not spoken about much since the president declared his support for it earlier this year. Gay marriage is now officially in the Democratic Party platform, and the party is taking the risk that either older voters who don’t back gay marriage were either going to oppose the president anyway or won’t vote on the issue.
4. The Democrats are going to go after Mitt Romney, very aggressively. The speeches including attacks on the GOP’s candidate’s taxes, his wealth and his shifts in positions on issues that were at times highly personal.
“Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport,” ex-Ohio governor Ted Strickland said about Romney.
The convention seemed an intentional attempt to blunt any gains in “likability” Romney achieved from the Republican National Convention last week.