Key Takeaways from the 2020 Conventions

A celebration with two women wearing masks and two men wearing masks with fireworks and an American flag in the background.
RNC Convention Photo: CNN

I always get interesting questions when during conventions. Each night I get asked:

  • What do you think of the speeches?
  • Which speech was the best of convention?
  • What did you think of Joe, Kamala, Michelle and Barack’s speeches?
  • What is your opinion about President Trump’s speech at the White House in front of a live audience? Are they wearing masks?

Conventions are a big deal. In 1976, Ronald Reagan’s gave remarks at the Republican convention that set the stage for his win four years later. Of course, most are aware that a little-known Senate candidate named Barack Obama’s speech at the 2004 convention changed the course of history with his win four years later.

In 2016, I attended both the Republican National Convention in Cleveland and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. Yes, I was in the convention hall when Michael Flynn led the crowd in the chant “lock her up, lock her up, locker her up.”

Compared to 2016 or any other election year, the 2020 conventions were anything but conventional. No balloons and confetti. No funny costumes, no networking parties, and no convention hall with thousands cheering their candidate.

According to Bloomberg Government, political conventions have been nationally televised since Dwight Eisenhower accepted the Republican nomination in 1952, but nothing like the televised conventions to this year’s pandemic-stricken nation.

The Democratic National Convention has been described as the Convention Across America featuring speeches, videos, and testimonials from cities and towns across the country.

The Republican National Convention was more typical with some live audiences in Charlotte and Washington. Nevertheless, videos, speeches and testimonials were also utilized in this pandemic environment.

According to NPR, here’s who tuned into the conventions:

  • Democrats: 24.6 million people watched Democratic nominee Vice President Joe Biden’s speech across 12 networks.
  • Republicans: 23.8 million viewers across 13 different networks, the largest audience on Thursday during President Donald Trump’s speech.
  • Opening night numbers: 17 million viewers for the RNC compared to 19.7 million viewers for the DNC.

Here are my key takeaways:

  1. If you are a Democrat, then this year’s Democratic National Convention bolstered your enthusiasm for the Biden/Harris ticket.
  2. If you a Republican, then the Republican National Convention’s message about President Trump’s economic record and his Law and Order message were equally appealing.
  3. While both conventions featured testimonials, notably the Democratic Convention showcased more Republicans who voiced their support for Joe Biden and opposition to President Trump.
  4. COVID and voting by mail were both winners and losers. Has the Postal Service ever been mentioned during a political convention before now?
  5. Conventions are usually opportunities for each party’s rising stars to meet influential donors and the party faithful. Instead of working the convention hall and individual events, seventeen rising Democratic stars gave the keynote address at the party’s convention on Tuesday. The Republican Convention featured a number of potential 2024 contenders.
  6. President Trump and Vice President Biden appeared each night of the convention as opposed to waiting until the final night of each convention.
  7. Neither side experienced the typical conventional bounce after each event.

Coming out of the Conventions, poll after poll still suggest there are 13% of Americans are still undecided about who they will support in November.

Really? Who are you? Raise your hands please!

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