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  • Donya Mansoorian

How the Coronavirus Affected the Democratic and Republican National Conventions in 2020

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

With both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions behind us, it is safe to say that the current global pandemic affected both events in important ways. Whether it be due to their significantly different hosting format from past years, the duration of each day having been shortened, or the various world events occupying news coverage, the number of viewers in comparison to previous years took an apparent dive. Considering the solely remote nature of both the DNC and RNC in 2020, let’s take a look at the ways their representation in the media during the pandemic can explain diminished viewers this year.


November is just around the corner, and with each party’s candidate for president and vice president formally selected, many individuals are fully indulged in this election and eager to see how this extensive journey will end. According to the number of views, though, there are many Americans who have also decided to simply sit this year’s conventions out.


Due to the pandemic, both conventions were streamed remotely with speakers contributing from various venues across the nation. Prioritizing social distancing, this year’s conventions accounted for a primarily virtual format, aside from the final night of the RNC. Months ago, members of the Republic National Committee claimed:


“...Mr.Trump’s convention will resemble the full-throated fête that the president yearns for…”


Footage of the final night of the RNC revealed the presence of a live audience and a seating arrangement that did not, in fact, abide by social-distancing measures. Claims were also made that the audience was not required to obtain coronavirus testing prior to entering the venue.


Although the severity of the coronavirus and its impact on the U.S. was still uncertain in March, concerns regarding the DNC and RNC were brought to light by top officials from the respective conventions. In an article written by Dan Merica for CNN, he states:


The prospect of coronavirus impacting a nominating convention shows how disruptive the novel coronavirus outbreak could be to major political events around the country this election year. An altered convention could be a disappointment for both parties, in large part because of the television coverage they receive.”


Considering that this statement was made months ago, the worry surrounding the status of the virus in the U.S. during these conventions was well warranted. With its unfortunate spread and far-from-ideal timing, television coverage on the virus drowned out important updates regarding both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. If New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was unaware of the DNC’s kickoff date, then how can a majority of U.S. voters be expected to know exactly when to tune in? (Mayor de Blasio even ran in the Democratic primaries for this year’s presidential election!)


In Mayor Bill de Blasio’s defense, he described where his and a majority of America’s current attention lies in an interview with NY1’s Errol Louis. With media coverage focused immensely on updating the public on the pandemic, a majority of individuals are devoting their attention to reopening the economy and public safety, especially as the school year commences. In the interview the mayor stated:


“Politics is not my focus right now.”


TV network correspondents who are usually flown out to the conventions were instructed to anchor and commentate from off-site offices or their home quarantines. In the words of CBS news anchor and political historian John Dickerson, with this major downsize and change in atmosphere came “less coverage of the nooks and crannies.”


Overall, the restructuring of the Democratic and Republican National Conventions during this 2020 election was inevitable. It is unfortunate that such an impactful time for this country has been tampered by a global pandemic, but it is imperative to prioritize the health and safety of all individuals.


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