Conventions Underscore Opposite Pandemic Approaches

The Democratic and Republican Conventions each produced four nights of prime-time programming, but the conventions themselves could not have been more different–particularly when it came to pandemic protocols.

The DNC took place almost completely remotely, while the RNC combined remote and in-person coverage, notably concluding with President Trump’s acceptance speech on the South Lawn of the White House delivered to a dense and largely maskless crowd of 1,500.

Despite its lack of live offerings, Nielsen figures show the DNC consistently outperformed the GOP convention in the TV ratings race (although they don’t account for online livestreaming audiences or social media viewers).

On the social media front, from the period spanning the first day of the DNC to the last day of the RNC (8.17-8.27), #RNC2020 was mentioned 2 million times on Twitter while #DemConvention was mentioned 2.5 million times. (While the DNC hashtag was more widely used, Twitter users are more likely to be Democrats than the general public).

Within the #RNC2020 Twitter conversation, COVID-related terms were mentioned only 58,000 times, in contrast to 96,000 times within the #DemConvention conversation. This isn’t necessarily surprising, as much of the DNC was centered around critiquing the current administration’s handling of the coronavirus. The RNC repeatedly referred to the virus in the past tense, with President Trump declaring his administration’s response to the pandemic a great success.