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San Diego's Democratic delegates participate from home

Posted at 4:48 PM, Aug 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 20:46:34-04

San Diego Democratic delegate Jess Durfee has attended the last four of his party's conventions to select the presidential nominee.

Some days, he spends more than 15 hours attending meetings, luncheons and waiting for major speeches on the floor.

"There is nothing like attending a convention," he says.

There is also nothing like the Democratic National Convention for 2020, which begins Monday. It's going all virtual in the midst of the Coronavirus outbreak. It starts with a keynote speech from Sen. Bernie Sanders, and will conclude Thursday when Joe Biden officially accepts the presidential nomination.

Durfee used to attend with his San Diego counterparts. This year he was supposed to go to the convention in Milwaukee. Instead, he'll be joining from his home office in University Heights.

"We would normally be seeing one another, even having breakfast together... We'd grab a couple of tables, and say 'these are San Diego tables, get away,'" he said, jokingly.

The same virtual format will apply for the Republican National Convention, happening next week.

Thad Kousser, a political scientist at UC San Diego, says these conventions are essentially one long political ad. The business of the party is not the priority - it's getting voters excited for November.

"The big question here is whether America will want to watch something that looks like the Zoom meetings many of us have been in all day," he said.

But Kousser said there is intense political interest that could push up viewership. In 2016, 26 million people tuned in for the opening night of the Democratic National Convention.

Durfee said if there is a drop off in viewership for the Democrats, he expects the same issue next week when the Republicans hold their convention.