New national surveys show that Joseph R. Biden Jr. maintains a significant if slightly diminished lead over President Trump, leaving him in a stronger position to oust an incumbent president than any challenger heading into his party’s convention in the modern polling era.
On average, Mr. Biden leads by eight to nine percentage points among likely voters. His advantage is perhaps slightly smaller than it was a month ago, when high-quality live-interview telephone surveys routinely showed him with a double-digit lead. But it is still the largest and most persistent national polling lead that any candidate has held in 24 years, since Bill Clinton maintained a double-digit advantage as an incumbent in 1996.
The conventions often introduce a volatile and uncertain period for public polling, as candidates usually gain in the polls after several days in the limelight on national television. Though the virtual nature of this year’s conventions could dampen that effect, this may be the last unbiased measurement of the state of the race until mid-September.
For now, the state of the race is clear, ending a nearly two-month period when live-interview and online polls showed a modestly different race. The new consensus can mainly be attributed to a shift among live-interview telephone surveys, which show a modest two-point shift in Mr. Trump’s direction. The online polls have remained largely unchanged.
It is too soon to evaluate what effect Mr. Biden’s selection of Senator Kamala Harris as his running mate might have. So far, there are no early signs that she has revitalized his standing among nonwhite voters. The only two telephone surveys conducted entirely after her selection, from CNN/SSRS and ABC News/Washington Post, show Mr. Biden faring somewhat worse among nonwhite voters than in their prior surveys from June or July.
With the Postal Service and the Trump administration under fire for mail delays that threaten to compromise a pandemic-era election in which millions of people plan to vote by mail, officials announced Monday that the postmaster general, Louis DeJoy, would testify before a House oversight committee next week.
Representative Carolyn B. Maloney, Democrat of New York and the chairwoman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee, said Monday that Mr. DeJoy would appear in front of the panel on Aug. 24.
“The American people want their mail, medicines, and mail-in ballots delivered in a timely way, and they certainly do not want drastic changes and delays in the midst of a global pandemic just months before the election,” she said in a statement.
Her announcement came as two Democrats on the House Judiciary Committee urged the F.B.I. to open a criminal investigation into actions by Mr. DeJoy and the Postal Service’s Board of Governors that may have caused mail delays.
“Multiple media investigations show that Postmaster DeJoy and the Board of Governors have retarded the passage of mail,” Representatives Ted W. Lieu of California and Hakeem Jeffries of New York, wrote in a letter to the F.B.I. director, Christopher A. Wray. “If their intent in doing so was to affect mail-in balloting or was motivated by personal financial reasons, then they likely committed crimes.”
The letter was first reported by MSNBC. The Postal Service did not respond to a request for comment.
Elsewhere on the postal front:
Mail-in voters from six states filed a lawsuit Monday against Mr. Trump and Mr. DeJoy, seeking to block cuts to the Postal Service ahead of the election. The suit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan on behalf of 17 plaintiffs from California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Wisconsin and New York, asks the court to declare that Mr. Trump and Mr. DeJoy have violated voters’ rights by cutting the Postal Service in an effort to stymie mail-in voting.
Mr. Trump, who has repeatedly made baseless claims that voting by mail is riddled with fraud, even as he recently requested his own vote-by-mail ballot in Florida, said on “Fox & Friends” Monday that Democrats were using postal funding as leverage for getting additional spending in the stalled coronavirus relief package
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, the majority leader, pushed back on Monday on concerns that the Postal Service would not be able to handle as many as 80 million ballots come November, telling reporters in his home state that “the Postal Service is going to be just fine” and that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had already signaled a willingness to spend more on it.
The House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, Democrat of California, said Sunday that she would call the House back from its annual summer recess almost a month early to vote this week on legislation to block changes at the Postal Service.
Miles Taylor, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security during President Trump’s term, on Monday endorsed former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. for president, saying what he witnessed the current president do as chief executive “was terrifying.”
Mr. Taylor is the most senior former member of the administration to openly endorse Mr. Biden, and one of the few to speak candidly about what he saw serving in the Trump administration.
In a testimonial video for the group Republicans Voters Against Trump, Mr. Taylor said that each week working there “was terrifying.” He described officials going to the White House to try to discuss a range of national security threats with the president, only to find him disinterested.
“The president wanted to exploit the Department of Homeland Security for his own political purposes, and to fuel his own agenda,” Mr. Taylor said in the video. He recalled a phone call related to the California wildfires, during which Mr. Trump told FEMA officials to “stop giving money to people whose houses had burned down” because he was so incensed the state hadn’t voted for him.
Mr. Taylor said that Mr. Trump also wanted to have a “deliberate policy” of separating children from their parents during illegal border crossings as a deterrent.
“A lot of the times the things he wanted to do not only were impossible but in many cases illegal,” Mr. Taylor recalled. “He didn’t want us to tell him it was illegal anymore because he knew that there were — and these were his words — he knew that he had ‘magical authorities.’”
“He was one of the most unfocused and undisciplined senior executives I’ve ever encountered,” Mr. Taylor said. “I came away completely convinced based on first-hand experience that the president was ill-equipped and wouldn’t become equipped to do his job effectively, and what’s worse was actively doing damage to our security.”
The Democratic National Convention will begin Monday night not only with a slate of the party’s heavyweights, which is par for the course, but also with several prominent Republicans who will help make the case for Joseph R. Biden Jr. over President Trump.
Christine Todd Whitman, a former Republican governor of New Jersey who was later appointed by President George W. Bush to run the Environmental Protection Agency, will speak. So will Meg Whitman, a major Republican fund-raiser and the former Hewlett-Packard chief executive, who ran for governor of California in 2010; Susan Molinari, a former Republican congresswoman from New York; and former Gov. John R. Kasich of Ohio, who sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2016.
“There are a bunch of people out there, silent Biden voters, Republicans that want to vote for Biden or that will be voting for Biden, and it’s important to let them know that they’re not alone, and it’s OK, that there are Republican leaders that are voting for Biden-Harris,” Representative Cedric L. Richmond, Democrat of Louisiana and a national co-chair of the Biden campaign, said at a convention press briefing held over Zoom on Monday.
They will add their names to a lineup of Democrats that includes Michelle Obama, the former first lady; Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont; Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York; Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan; Representative James E. Clyburn of South Carolina, and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.
Here is the lineup for the first night, which is scheduled to run from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. Eastern, as announced by the Democratic National Convention Committee:
Introduction: the actress Eva Longoria.
Call to order: Representative Bennie Thompson of Mississippi.
Featured speakers: Representative Gwen Moore of Wisconsin; Mayor Muriel Bowser of Washington, D.C.; Representative James Clyburn of South Carolina; Mr. Cuomo; Kristin Urquiza, who lost her father to the coronavirus; Sara Gideon, the speaker of the Maine House of Representatives; Ms. Whitmer; Christine Todd Whitman; Meg Whitman; Ms. Molinari; Mr. Kasich; Senator Doug Jones of Alabama; Senator Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada; Ms. Klobuchar; Mr. Richmond; and Mr. Sanders.
The main event: Ms. Obama will deliver keynote remarks.
Greetings from the Democratic convention in Milwaukee!
Oh, wait, not really. Like the candidates, delegates, contributors and hangers-on, most of the New York Times team covering the convention this week — and the Republican convention next week — is everywhere but Milwaukee. But we are looking to see how the party, and the nation, adjust to this latest challenge of running a presidential campaign during a pandemic.
Here are a few things I’ll be watching for:
Can Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee, adjust to speaking to a room that does not have a crowd? If he does, and the signs in his limited appearances so far are promising for him, that could give him a decided advantage over President Trump, who has struggled to modulate his tone as he faces a campaign without rallies.
Will the Democratic Party in the post-Biden era — no, it’s not too soon to think about this — be the party of Kamala Harris, the California senator and presumptive vice-presidential nominee? From Andrew M. Cuomo in the East to Gretchen Whitmer in the middle of the country to Gavin Newsom in the West, there will be a lot of Democrats trying to use this time to stake a claim on the party’s future. That’s going to be much more difficult in a format in which most speeches are limited to less than five minutes.
How will Ms. Harris define her role as a vice-presidential candidate? Will she speak mostly about Mr. Biden, Mr. Trump or Ms. Harris? This will probably be the biggest platform she will have, short of the vice-presidential debate, until Election Day.
Balloons and boos. Many longtime convention goers are going to miss the dramatic balloon drop at the end of the fourth night. (Even better, truth be told, is when they flub the balloon drop.) But it’s a good guess that the convention organizers are not going to miss another convention staple: the inevitable boos from Democratic dissidents.
Enjoy. We will keep updating this campaign briefing until the final balloon — sorry, until the final gavel drops. Or at least until our Zoom time expires.
Standing in front of Air Force One on the tarmac of the Minneapolis airport Monday afternoon, President Trump assailed Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris, accusing them of wanting to bring a “left-wing war on cops” to the White House.
In his first stop in Minneapolis since the protests and violence that struck the city after the police killing of George Floyd, Mr. Trump lashed out at what he called “radical left anarchists” who looted parts of the city.
“They’re anarchists,” he said. “Everyone says ‘Oh, don’t use that term, radical left.’ I go, ‘Radical left anarchists!’”
Mr. Trump invited the owners of small businesses that were looted to describe their experiences. Several of them praised Mr. Trump for his efforts to crack down on the violence.
The president criticized state and local officials for not calling in the National Guard until the third night of unrest in the city, and slammed Mr. Biden and Democrats.
“At the Democratic Convention this week, we will not hear a word about these innocent victims or the left-wing violence that has taken place,” Mr. Trump said to a small crowd of supporters assembled near the plane. “While I’m President, I will find for a future for every American city.”
Mr. Trump’s appearance marked the start of what the White House said would be a nonstop assault on the Democratic ticket by the president this week. He is scheduled to speak tonight in Wisconsin, where the Democratic convention was scheduled to take place starting today (it has been turned into a largely virtual event).
On Tuesday, the president is expected to make a stop in Iowa and give a speech on border security in Yuma, Ariz.
On Thursday, the day Mr. Biden is scheduled to formally accept his party’s nomination, Mr. Trump plans to deliver remarks in Old Forge, Pa., not far from Mr. Biden’s hometown, Scranton.
A political convention is traditionally the work of thousands — event planners, camera operators, stage managers, even an inflation team for the ceremonial balloon drop on the nominee.
But with the coronavirus sequestering delegates to living rooms and reducing the raucous arena to a pixelated party of (very roughly) like-minded politicos, the most critical staff members for this year’s nearly all-virtual convention are the ones who often operate behind the scenes, away from the stage, in front of small screens:
The digital team.
For the Democratic National Convention, their work has meant building a network capable of expanding from a dozen or so remote feeds to hundreds; ensuring a livestream has enough redundancy to offset any lags or other problems and constructing a broadcast to recreate some semblance of a reactive audience.
It’s also involved organizing a coaching team for speakers and participants to mitigate, as much as possible, any embarrassing Zoom-mutes or microphone mishaps.
The Republican National Committee plans to hold a fireworks display at the Washington Monument after President Trump accepts his party’s nomination on Aug. 27, a move ethics experts have criticized as a blatantly political ploy by Republicans, who have supported hosting convention events on national park land.
According to documents filed with the National Park Service and obtained by The New York Times, the Republican National Committee has applied to conduct a five-minute fireworks display that night beginning at 11:30 p.m. The committee also filed a separate request to film portions of the Nation Mall, most likely for promotional materials, an official familiar with the plans said.
Mike Litterst, a spokesman for the National Park Service, said in an email that the permit for the fireworks was still being processed and that no decision had been made yet.
“It’s bad, and it’s even worse that it’s happening in conjunction with another national park, the White House lawn,” said Norman L. Eisen, who served as President Barack Obama’s ethics counsel. “It’s the equivalent of him chiseling his face for a day on Mount Rushmore.” (That idea might appeal to Mr. Trump.)
Last week, the president said that he would likely deliver his party’s acceptance speech on the South Lawn of the White House. Mr. Trump had also teased hosting his speech at Gettysburg — the site of the Civil War’s bloodiest battle and a place memorialized in 1863 by President Abraham Lincoln as hallowed ground — before pivoting back to the White House.
“I’ll probably be giving my speech at the White House because it is a great place,” Mr. Trump told The New York Post last week. “It’s a place that makes me feel good, it makes the country feel good.”
This was supposed to be a banner moment for Democrats in Wisconsin, a chance to put out the welcome mat for thousands of delegates and gush about “America’s Dairyland.”
But party stalwarts in the state, which could be a linchpin in the November election, were relegated to the role of virtual hosts on Monday as the Democratic National Convention got underway.
The head of the Wisconsin Democrats said that if it wasn’t for President Trump’s failure in handling the coronavirus pandemic, delegates would have been able to gather in Milwaukee for an in-person convention.
The party chairman, Ben Wikler, criticized the Trump administration’s response to the health crisis during a welcome breakfast held online on the convention’s opening day.
Milwaukee’s mayor, Tom Barrett, commiserated with the other party leaders about losing out on an in-person convention.
“We have been dealt a rough set of cards,” Mr. Barrett said.
Gov. Tony Evers, who has clashed with conservatives over emergency orders during the pandemic, said that Republicans had put power and politics ahead of public health.
“The pandemic has laid bare the hard truths around our country,” Mr. Evers said. “Joe Biden understands what it takes to lead a country in crisis.”
Senator Tammy Baldwin said that Mr. Trump, his son Eric Trump, and Vice President Mike Pence were putting the public at risk by planning upcoming campaign events in Wisconsin.
“They’re unsafe because they’re holding in-person events,” Ms. Baldwin said. “The mismanagement and total utter failure of leadership during the pandemic is laid out starkly.”
It wouldn’t be the Democratic National Convention without some Hollywood star power, and this year is no exception, even though the proceedings will be largely virtual.
The actresses Eva Longoria, Tracee Ellis Ross, Kerry Washington and Julia Louis-Dreyfus will serve as M.C.s during the four nights of the convention, organizers announced on Monday.
“The voices we’re including are the perfect messengers to lift up our theme of unity and help us engage with more Americans than ever before,” Stephanie Cutter, the convention’s program director, said in a statement.
It was not immediately clear whether the M.C.s would make live or prerecorded appearances, or how much speaking time they would have. The organizers said only that the hosts would “keep the program moving and connected.”
Ms. Longoria, 45, a Mexican-American TV star known for her role on “Desperate Housewives,” will be the convention’s Monday night M.C. She has sought to increase Latino representation in government and was a founder of the group Latino Victory Project and spoke at the 2016 Democratic convention, where she criticized Donald J. Trump’s comments about Central American immigrants.
“My father isn’t a criminal or a rapist,” she said then. “In fact, he’s a veteran.”
Ms. Ross, 47, who has won a Golden Globe Award for her role on “black-ish” and moderated a book tour for the former first lady Michelle Obama in 2018, will be the M.C. on Tuesday.
Ms. Washington, 43, who starred on the ABC television series “Scandal,” will handle hosting duties on Wednesday night.
This convention will culminate with Ms. Louis-Dreyfus taking over the M.C. role on Thursday, the night of Mr. Biden’s nomination acceptance speech.
Ms. Louis-Dreyfus, 59, was Elaine on “Seinfeld” and played the fictional vice president Selina Meyer on the HBO series “Veep.”
In 2017, when Ms. Louis-Dreyfus disclosed that she had breast cancer, Mr. Biden tweeted his support for her, writing, “We Veeps stick together. Jill and I, and all of the Bidens, are with you, Julia.”
Some of the tensions inherent in the Democrats’ big-tent approach to their convention broke into view Monday in a revealing back-and-forth between two very different politicians who will speak on behalf of Joseph R. Biden Jr.: John R. Kasich, a Republican who served as governor of Ohio and ran for president in 2016, and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, a rising Democratic star who is a favorite of the progressive left.
Mr. Kasich said in an interview with BuzzFeed News that he sees the nation as fundamentally moderate and questioned whether Ms. Ocasio-Cortez should be seen as representing the Democratic Party.
“People on the extreme, whether they’re on the left or on the right, they get outsized publicity that tends to define their party,” Mr. Kasich said in the interview. “You know, I listen to people all the time make these statements, and because AOC gets outsized publicity doesn’t mean she represents the Democratic Party. She’s just a part, just some member of it. And it’s on both sides, whether it’s the Republicans or whether it’s the Democrats.”
It’s great that Kasich has woken up &realized the importance of supporting a Biden-Harris ticket. I hope he gets through to GOP voters.
Yet also, something tells me a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party. https://t.co/38h6JGpbMj
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) August 17, 2020
Ms. Ocasio-Cortez responded on Twitter, writing: “It’s great that Kasich has woken up &realized the importance of supporting a Biden-Harris ticket. I hope he gets through to GOP voters. Yet also, something tells me a Republican who fights against women’s rights doesn’t get to say who is or isn’t representative of the Dem party.”
Former staff members of the presidential campaign of Michael R. Bloomberg, the former New York mayor whose failed billion-dollar bid for the White House lasted just over three months, have called for him to be removed from the Democrats’ convention program.
Six former employees, who are among those who have sued Mr. Bloomberg for wrongful termination, released an open letter on Monday to the Democratic National Committee chairman Tom Perez asking him to cancel Mr. Bloomberg’s remarks “and replace him with a Democratic politician or labor leader who supports workers’ rights and other core Democratic Party values.”
They also asked Mr. Perez, whose organization received an $18 million transfer from Mr. Bloomberg in March, for their jobs back and the opportunity to work in the field for Joseph R. Biden Jr.
The letter was signed by people who had worked as field organizers for Mr. Bloomberg in Georgia, Utah and Washington State and are involved in one of several lawsuits against Mr. Bloomberg relating to the terms under which they were let go when he dropped out of the race in March.
In their particular suit, filed in Federal District Court in Manhattan last spring, the former staff members alleged that Mr. Bloomberg had tricked them into taking jobs that they expected to last through the election — regardless of who won the Democratic nomination. They said they had rearranged their lives and foregone other opportunities based on what they called his false promises.
The workers summarized their grievances anew in the letter to Mr. Perez on Monday, noting that thousands like them had been abruptly terminated in the midst of the pandemic. “This is the type of greedy, anti-worker move we’d expect from Donald Trump, but not from a Democratic presidential candidate,” they wrote.
A spokeswoman for Mr. Bloomberg disputed the former employees’ claims on Monday. “Like every campaign that ends, people were let go. Unlike other campaigns however, Mike Bloomberg gave his staff health insurance through November as well as severance,” the spokeswoman wrote in an email, calling Mr. Bloomberg “the biggest supporter of the Democratic Party.”
The former staffers named a dozen other public figures, including politicians like Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and labor leaders like AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, whom they argued ought to take Mr. Bloomberg’s spot.
“All of these people are far better suited to credibly and powerfully speak about the values that we hold dear as Democrats and the things Democrats want to accomplish to make our economy work for working families again,” they wrote, “instead of further rigging the system for billionaires like Mike Bloomberg to make even more profit.”
In the months since Senator Bernie Sanders ended his campaign for president, progressive candidates have notched once-improbable primary victories against longtime Democratic incumbents. Each member of the so-called Squad, the group of progressive women of color in the House, will almost certainly return to Washington. The coronavirus pandemic has revitalized support nationwide for progressive policy proposals including “Medicare for all.”
In that time, Mr. Sanders has quietly faded back into Senate life. Aside from endorsing some fellow progressives down the ballot, he has largely kept his focus on the public health crisis. One of his latest initiatives was to introduce legislation that would provide “masks for all.”
On Monday, Mr. Sanders will address the Democratic National Convention and once again make his case for the progressive cause. Once again, he will deliver a speech as a losing candidate to rally his loyal followers behind another nominee.
But this is not 2016. While Mr. Sanders nominally lent his support to Hillary Clinton at this point four years ago, he never stopped arguing that he had been mistreated in the primary — that the election was rigged and the entire political system was, too — an air of grievance that his followers took with them to the convention floor.
That 2016 gathering was overshadowed by hacked emails from D.N.C. accounts showing party officials eager to help Mrs. Clinton and undercut Mr. Sanders — a revelation that left the party’s Clinton and Sanders wings deeply divided and confirmed the longstanding complaints of bias from the Vermont senator.
Mr. Sanders is still stubborn, still passionate and still convinced he would have made the best president. But this year, he also appears to be something else: at peace.
Gov. Wanda Vázquez of Puerto Rico conceded defeat on Sunday night to Pedro R. Pierluisi, a former congressional representative who briefly served as the island’s governor last year.
The results came a week after the primary was delayed because elections officials failed to deliver ballots to a majority of precincts. Puerto Rico’s Supreme Court ruled that another day of voting had to take place and that the ballots cast earlier should be counted.
Ms. Vázquez is a Republican and Mr. Pierluisi a Democrat, but both belong to the New Progressive Party, which supports statehood for Puerto Rico. Mr. Pierluisi will face Mayor Charlie Delgado of Isabela, a town on the island’s northwestern coast, in the November general election.
When it comes to mainland politics, Mr. Delgado is not registered as a Democrat or a Republican. Mr. Delgado won the nomination for the Popular Democratic Party, which supports Puerto Rico’s status as a U.S. commonwealth, after defeating Senator Eduardo Bhatia and Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz of San Juan. Ms. Cruz became well known outside of Puerto Rico after she blasted President Trump for his administration’s botched response to Hurricane Maria in 2017.
The Trump administration had made overtures to Ms. Vázquez in recent months to try to show a federal commitment to storm recovery.
Ms. Vázquez became governor a year ago after former Gov. Ricardo A. Rosselló resigned after huge protests. Mr. Rosselló chose Mr. Pierluisi as his successor, but the Supreme Court ruled the appointment was improper.