We Answer Your Questions About The 2020 Democratic National Convention In Milwaukee

Jan 15, 2020

This July, the Democratic National Convention is expected to bring tens of thousands of people to the city of Milwaukee — and many Milwaukeeans aren’t sure what to expect.

As part of our Wisconsin 2020 series, we've been asking you tell us what you want to know about the DNC. Now, it's time to answer them. 

Here to help us answer your questions is reporter Molly Beck. She's a state government and politics reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

What is the Democratic National Convention?

The DNC, as we know it, is the convention where the next Democratic presidential candidate will be picked. That person will go on to compete against President Trump. 

In the timeline of the election process, when does the DNC happen? What comes before it? What do we expect after it?

The DNC takes place July 13-16.

The Wisconsin presidential primaries are in April. There are a lot of other state contests in the debate on the Democratic side coming up before that, including the Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire's primary, and Super Tuesday (when a bunch of states will hold their primaries).

"Before Wisconsin's primary, there will be a bunch of other states that just make their decisions before that. And then there will be some after us too. But the DNC ... will be kind of the culmination of that, where the person is picked," Beck explains.

So theoretically, we have all of these primaries, and by the time we get to the DNC, we really know who's going to be nominated. But who does the nomination?

By the time the convention comes around, we usually have a good idea of who the Democratic presidential nominee will be. But this year, there are a lot of Democratic candidates that are still going strong. Beck expects that will change after Iowa, New Hampshire, and Super Tuesday. But she says it's still likely that a few candidates will make a play for Wisconsin in April.

There typically isn't a contested convention or brokered convention. But, barring that rarity, she says it's just the delegates that will make their decision. And of those delegates, some of them are pledged delegates, and they are making their pick based on the results of the primary election.

READ: Preliminary Security Footprint Announced For DNC In July

Are these the same people who back in 2016, many of us called super delegates?

There are two kinds of delegates: regular delegates and super delegates. The super delegates, their power has been scaled back and they really only come into play if there's a deadlock. The delegates are the ones that are picked by the party and they're the ones who are going to probably make the decision. 

So we're talking about the DNC and the event that's happening here in Milwaukee. What all does that include, what happens there?

There's the convention, which will take place at Fiserv Forum. But there's also going to be hundreds of other events. There's also going to be a lot of different events happening all over the state during those few days in July.

Who can go to the DNC? If you live in the Milwaukee area, can you just attend the convention?

It's unlikely that somebody off the street will be able to actually come to the convention. The people that are really going to be there are delegates, journalists, volunteers, and elected officials in the Democratic Party.

How do you volunteer for the DNC?

You can apply on the DNC website. Beck has heard from some people who wish to volunteer that they haven't heard anything back from the DNC. But she says DNC officials say they're working on that and are going to get back to potential volunteers soon. 

READ: DNC Needs Money, Venues And Volunteers

What does the DNC mean for people who live and work in downtown Milwaukee?

About 50,000 people are expected to come to Milwaukee for the convention. So, that means traffic is probably going to be crazy. If you're interested in renting out your home on Airbnb, you could make a lot of money during those few days in July. Restaurants are going to be making a lot of money, but that also means there's likely going to be a lot of people around downtown Milwaukee. 

Why does it matter that this convention is coming to Milwaukee?

Beck says Wisconsin played a huge role in 2016, in different ways.

"For Democrats, they realized that Wisconsin has always been very important, especially Milwaukee, to their chances each presidential contest. And turnout in Milwaukee was down [in 2016]. The Democratic candidate, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she didn't come to campaign personally in the state after the primary," she says.

Beck points out that Clinton had an event in Wisconsin scheduled, but the Pulse nightclub shooting happened, so they canceled it and she never came back.

"I think the optics of that and President Trump winning Wisconsin for the first time a Republican had in 30 years, that's all a big deal. It's all symbolic. And I think Democrats are choosing Milwaukee because they want to say they still care about this part of the country, and it's important to us," she explains.

What do you want to know about the 2020 elections and the DNC convention? Submit your questions below.

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