A staple of presidential election years, 2020’s National Conventions looked a bit different this year. Online, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) (August 17-20) generated over 9.1 million mentions, while the Republican National Convention (RNC) (August 24-27) put up similar numbers, with 10.7 million mentions across broadcast, traditional news sources, and social media. Both parties saw Twitter as the most popular discussion platform, accounting for 95% of the total mentions.


Key Findings

  • The DNC achieved the highest peak in terms of total mentions. The first night of the DNC generated the highest number of mentions for the week, peaking at 359,652 mentions in the 10 p.m. EST hour of Monday, August 17th.
    • The timing of the peak coincided with Michelle Obama’s speech. Mrs. Obama was the third-most mentioned speaker for the week, generating over 200k more mentions than her husband.
    • The second night of the RNC (Tuesday 8/24) generated the most conversation of the whole event, peaking at 310,328 mentions at 9pm EST following speeches by Melania Trump and Mike Pompeo.
  • Conversation about the RNC centered mainly on President Trump, while coverage of the DNC was more varied
    • Trump captured 71% of the share of voice among RNC speakers, while Biden captured 56% of the share of voice among his party’s speakers. 
    • DNC coverage frequently mentioned Trump, but RNC coverage didn’t focus much on Biden. Trump attracted 1.2 million mentions during the DNC, while Biden got just 580K mentions throughout his opponents’ convention. 
  • The RNC generated much more negative conversation than the DNC. Mentions of the convention were 72% negative, 4% neutral, and 24% positive. By comparison, the DNC met a more balanced reception, registering 56% negative, 3% neutral and 41% positive mentions.
    • Notably, the RNC’s racially diverse group of speakers met a mixed reception — while conservatives applauded the RNC for its inclusion, liberals said the lineup was a publicity stunt that did not reflect the true makeup of the Republican party.
  • Biden was discussed more favorably than Trump
    • Mentions of Trump were 30% positive and 65% negative during the RNC, while mentions of Biden during the DNC were 48% positive and 49% negative. 
  • Both conventions focused on the same key themes: COVID-19, voting, and race relations
    • The parties differed in their messages about policing. RNC speakers extolled law and order, while DNC speakers called for police reform. Both sides drew criticism from progressives, who accused each party of failing to effect real change.

By the Numbers: DNC vs. RNC

These graphics compare coverage of the DNC (left) with coverage of the RNC (right).

Along with the most total mentions, the RNC was mentioned more times by more unique authors. While the sentiment around both conventions was mostly negative, the DNC had a higher proportion of positive coverage than the RNC (41% vs 24%). Mentions of Joe Biden were more positive than mentions of Trump (48% vs. 30%) 


Coverage of the RNC focused on Trump. The president’s name was the most-mentioned word in online conversations about the convention. In contrast, coverage of the DNC did not focus as much on Biden. In fact, “Obama” received more mentions than either “Joe” or “Biden.” Paradoxically, Trump also received a great deal of coverage during his opponents’ convention. The president attracted 1.2 million mentions during the DNC, while Biden received just 580K mentions throughout the Republican convention.

Overall RNC & DNC Conversations 

Top Hashtags — Republican National Convention

Top Hashtags — Democratic National Convention

Hashtags used by the general public during the RNC focused largely on Trump, illustrating the president’s polarizing influence. Four of the nine most-used hashtags reference President Trump, either showing support for the president (such as #maga and #trump2020) or in opposition to him (such as #trumpchaos and #donttrusttrump). 

Among elected Members of Congress, hashtags focused less on Trump and more on social issues. Republican Twitter authors referenced the importance of upholding tradition and protecting the American way of life. They also referenced Hurricane Laura more often than Democrats did, as the storm made the largest impact in some of their states (specifically Texas and Louisiana). In contrast, Democrats talked more about the economic consequences of the COVID-19 shutdowns, referencing the Heroes Act and calling on Republicans to deliver relief to American families, and the #BlackLivesMatter movement. 

Deep Dive: DNC & RNC Speakers

Using our Time Series Explorer, we were able to rank the speakers by overall volume of mentions and track when they made their greatest impact. RNC (top), DNC (bottom).

As expected, Trump drove more conversation than any other RNC speaker (2.4 million mentions), with coverage peaking on Thursday night at 9pm when he accepted the nomination. Melania Trump was the second-most-mentioned RNC speaker (251K mentions), while VP Mike Pence was the third-most-discussed figure (245K mentions).

In terms of the DNC, Joe Biden was mentioned heavily throughout, and generated the most overall mentions on the final night — he saw more than 119,500 mentions in conjunction with Democratic Convention keywords during the hour of his acceptance speech. Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris ranked second in mentions, due to being mentioned in each day of the convention.

Analysis of Selected RNC Speakers (Excluding Trump)

Melania Trump: 251K mentions (26% positive; 9% neutral; 65% negative)

  • Melania was one of the most divisive figures of the RNC, even though her speech called for unity.
  • Mainstream media outlets, such as the Atlantic and the New Yorker, published opinion pieces accusing Melania of promoting lies and being out-of-touch with working-class Americans.

Donald Trump Jr.:  226K mentions (24% positive; 5% neutral; 70% negative) 

  • The president’s eldest son attacked the Biden campaign more than many other speakers. Trump Jr. criticized the Democratic nominee, his son Hunter, and the media at large.
    • BBC highlighted Donald Jr.’s bold speaking style and rapport with rural conservatives, calling him “Trumpier than Trump.”
  • Unlike some of the other speakers, Trump Jr. drove much of the conversation around his own RNC appearance. The top four tweets about the president’s son were authored by Don Jr. himself, attracting over 420K likes and retweets. 
  • However, the biggest topic of discussion was Trump Jr.’s watery eyes during the speech, which fueled suspicions of drug use.
    • The most-shared article covering his speech came from the tabloid Raw Story, which speculated that the president’s son may have been “coked out of his mind” during his RNC appearance.
    • Responding to a meme of Kermit the Frog snorting cocaine, Trump Jr. tweeted that people “must have [him] confused with Hunter Biden.”

Vernon Jones:  81K mentions (34% positive; 5% neutral; 61% negative)

  • As a black man and lifelong Democrat, Jones made headlines for endorsing Trump in his convention speech.
  • The GA politician accused his former party of promoting intolerance, socialism, and an anti-police bias.
  • He credited Trump with implementing criminal justice reform and increasing funding to HBCUs. Jones later told CNN that his speech was meant to serve as a “culture shock” to help Black Americans “break free of the groupthink-shackles placed on [them] by White liberals.”
  • Responses to Jones’s speech were divided along party lines:
    • Conservatives lauded Jones for exposing how Democrat policies reportedly trap Black Americans in poverty.
    • Liberals admonished him for minimizing Trump’s alleged history of racism.

Analysis of Selected DNC Speakers (Excluding Biden)

Michelle Obama: 603K mentions (54% negative; 42% positive; 4% neutral)

  • Excluding Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, Michelle Obama generated the highest number of mentions following her speech during the Democratic National Convention.
  • During her address, she highlighted the importance of voting during this upcoming election and the need for empathy towards others throughout this difficult time.
  • Michelle Obama received strong praise from Kamala Harris, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and other for her powerful call to action to motivate voter participation. 
    • Noteworthy negative attention was fueled by a comparison between Michelle Obama’s speech and GOP Candidate Kimberly Klacik, who aired a powerful ad against Democrats for their apparent fake concern for black lives.
    • Klacik’s ad dominated the media sphere — when comparing numbers, her ad far overshadowed Michelle Obama’s speech. 

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC): 253K mentions (48% positive; 1% neutral; 50% negative)

  • AOC was one of the convention’s most-discussed speakers, despite having just one minute of airtime
    • Many progressives, including former Democratic candidate Andrew Yang, expressed frustration that AOC and other progressives did not get more time to speak.
    • Sanders and others lamented that Republicans such as John Kasich and Colin Powell received more airtime than left-wing Democrats.
    • Meanwhile, conservative influencers latched on to her support for Sanders, poking fun at Democrats’ lack of unity.
  • In a prerecorded address, she covered a range of progressive issues and stated her support for Bernie Sanders’ presidential nomination.
  • Afterwards, Ocasio-Cortez congratulated Joe Biden on Twitter, clarifying that her nomination of Sanders was a formality of the convention but that she planned to support Biden. 

Andrew Cuomo: 87K mentions (65% negative; 1% neutral; 35% positive) 

  • Cuomo’s speech was largely well-received by Democrats (including Biden) who praised the NY governor for his leadership during the pandemic.
  • Meanwhile, Republicans criticized Cuomo for forcing nursing homes to accept COVID-positive patients. 
    • The day after Cuomo spoke, the Gateway Pundit published an article claiming that Cuomo was responsible for over 11,000 nursing home deaths.
    • Other conservative influencers questioned why liberals blame Trump for the US’s high death toll, but do not blame Cuomo for COVID-related fatalities in New York.
  • Some fans said that Cuomo himself would have been a strong candidate for the Democratic nomination.
    • In a recap of his speech, the Los Angeles Times said that Cuomo would be “a potential presidential contender in 2024 or 2028.” 

Methodology and Scope

Using the Zignal Media Intelligence Platform, we tracked mentions of the Republican convention, such as “RNC,” “#GOPConvention,” and “Republican National Convention,” and layered on keywords for featured speakers. The same was done for the Democratic event, tracking mentions such as “DNC,” “#DemConvention,” and “Democratic National Convention.” We used this search to identify trends within the overall conversation and compare the two conventions to each other.



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