Which convention was more successful: DNC or RNC?


Fact Box

  • 23.8 million people watched the final night of the RNC on Thursday, while 24.6 million tuned into the last night of the DNC the week before.
  • The DNC was held at the Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, from August 17-20. Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, Barack Obama, Kamala Harris, and Elizabeth Warren were some of the keynote speakers of the convention.
  • From August 24-27, the RNC was hosted at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. Main speakers included Mitch McConnell, Kevin McCarthy, Ivanka Trump, and Tom Cotton. 
  • The first Democratic Convention was held on May 21, 1832, in Baltimore. There, the Democratic Party formally changed its name from the previous “Republican Delegates from the Several States.”
  • The first Republican National Convention was held in Philadelphia's Musical Fund Hall in June of 1856. 
  • The Democratic 2020 convention emphasized on voting and societal change, to be carried out through a Biden/Harris ticket, while Republicans encouraged Trump to continue with the 2016 platform under the current “Fighting for You!” banner. 
  • Biden’s 2020 DNC acceptance speech totaled a little over 24 minutes, while Trump’s 2020 RNC acceptance speech amounted to 1 hour and 10 minutes.
  • 34 speakers presented at the DNC; 69 presented at the RNC.

Bill (RNC)

The RNC convention was more successful than the DNC's for countless reasons. First, it offered a positive and encouraging vision of the country, sharply contrasting with the DNC, which presented only a grim affair. The 2020 DNC was variously described as 'somber' and 'mournful,' focusing mainly on negative aspects of America—not exactly a rousing message to inspire their constituencies. The RNC featured speakers who gave Americans four nights of the unifying theme of a 'Land of Heroes.' This refrain allowed the RNC to highlight the military, police, firefighters, first responders, and frontline medical personnel (among others) as reasons to celebrate the collective courage and sacrifice of everyday Americans.  

Second, the RNC's diverse lineup of speakers made a case for re-electing President Trump. Some of the reasons cited included Republican efforts to allow school choice for all American children and execute significant criminal justice reform (issues that resonate with Black voters). It included restoring law and order in the wake of the violent riots spreading across the country in recent months and re-establishing economic recovery and job growth, lower taxes, etc. Conversely, the DNC message consisted of an appeal to vote for Biden merely because he is not Trump (i.e., a personality vs. policy reason).

Finally, Trump's decision to speak in front of a live audience at the White House fueled the convention with palpable energy and enthusiasm, something the DNC could not match with their speakers' taped remarks. By fully displaying Republican positivity and American hope and optimism, assembling a diverse group of speakers, and hammering home their unified messages before a live audience, the RNC's convention compared favorably with the DNC's stilted and joyless production.

Andrew (DNC)

The point of the modern national convention is to sell the candidate and the party platform to the masses. Joe Biden and the DNC did precisely that, offering constituents “a path of hope and light.” Conversely, President Donald Trump and the RNC offered a message of division and negativity. The DNC message invited all who wanted to hear it to act by framing the election as a choice between decency and inhumanity.

While Joe Biden found success by speaking honestly and openly to the people, President Trump was divisive and filled his speeches with inaccuracies and outright lies. Some experts have even suggested that speeches from President and First Lady Trump may have violated the Hatch Act in that they used federal resources for election purposes. As explained by pollster Geoff Garin, the DNC convention was a success despite a significant disadvantage; none had yet done a virtual convention before. They were able to produce an organized and meaningful convention without the advantage of watching the other party go first, as the RNC was able to.

The DNC was much more organized than the RNC, giving TV networks precise schedules in advance. The RNC was much less decisive about their scheduling. The fact that the Republicans allowed president Trump to speak for so long each night with no preset plan meant the TV networks refused to allow more than an hour of air time, something damaging to both parties. Joe Biden and the DNC made a compelling case to voters by successfully framing the election as a choice between positive and negative paths during the first-ever online convention.

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