How Convention Speaking Times Reveal Democrats’ Pecking Order

The tone and substance of this week’s convention felt like it was tailor-made for Mr. Biden, a 77-year-old moderate Democrat who has worked in Washington for more than four decades as a senator and vice president.

Most of the political leaders who received speaking slots in the event were not unlike him: They boasted years of government experience, party credentials and in many cases, a center-left ideology.

Who spoke for more than 10 minutes

Outside of the nominees — Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris — it was the Obamas, and a few of the celebrity M.C.s who got the most time in the spotlight. Though Mr. Biden’s speech was the longest at about 25 minutes, Hillary Clinton’s 2016 speech ran almost an hour and Barack Obama’s 2008 speech was only slightly shorter than that.

Who spoke between 5 and 10 minutes

Even though they sparred with Mr. Biden for months on the campaign trail, Mr. Sanders and Ms. Warren spent their relatively substantial chunk of speaking time making forceful policy-based cases for Mr. Biden and urging their supporters to unite behind him.

Who spoke between 2 and 5 minutes

Former President Bill Clinton has been a fixture at Democratic conventions since the 1980s. In the 2012 convention, for instance, he spoke for 48 minutes; four years later, speaking about Mrs. Clinton, the party’s nominee, he spoke for about 42.

But this week, he was given less than five minutes to address the nation by a party that seemed eager to signal that the Clintons now largely represent a past era of Democratic politics.

Who spoke for fewer than 2 minutes

Party officials said the average speaking time for all convention participants — after accounting for the five major addresses from the Obamas, the Bidens and Mr. Harris — would be about two minutes.

To the disappointment of her fans, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York got less time than that. Despite being one of the most prominent and most energizing members of the party’s progressive wing, she was given about 90 seconds, during which she nominated Mr. Sanders.

The convention also shined a spotlight on policy issues, seeking to appeal to voters who prioritize the environment, gun safety and immigration reform.

But in the end, much of the week’s prime-time messaging appeared to be most focused on appealing to center and center-right voters still on the fence. And the show the Democratic Party ultimately put on for American viewers was one that hewed toward the values of the person it was nominating for the White House.


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