Hillary Clinton with Senator Tim Kaine during a campaign event at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Virginia
Bloomberg via Getty Images

It all starts Monday.

By Ben Geier
July 24, 2016

After a longer-than-expected primary process, the Democratic Party is set to officially nominate Hillary Clinton this week at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The convention is likely to be a more buttoned-up affair than last week’s Republican National Convention in Cleveland. But that doesn’t mean it will lack its share of drama and intrigue. Here is everything you need to know:

How to watch

For the prime time speeches, every major network — NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, and PBS — will be airing the convention live. You’ll also be able to watch coverage on the major cable news networks like CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

If you’re a true convention nerd, though, and you want to watch the actual convention happenings all day for four days, the place to go is CSPAN. The cable channel, which normally shows live happenings within the halls of Congress, will have gavel-to-gavel coverage of the convention.

For the cord-cutters out there, there are plenty of options. Many news channels will be streaming the speeches on their websites, and CBS is working with Twitter to air the convention via the social network. CSPAN will be airing its coverage via Facebook Live.

Who are the biggest names speaking each night?

Though the schedule isn’t complete and is subject to change, here are the biggest names you can expect to hear from on each night of the convention.

Monday: Two major names from within the party will be giving speeches on the first night of the convention. The first will be Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, the democratic-socialist who gave Clinton a surprisingly vigorous fight in the primary campaign. The second will be current First Lady Michelle Obama, who remains a fairly popular figure. The biggest question about Michelle Obama’s speech may be whether she will refer to the fact that Melania Trump plagiarized her 2008 speech last week.

Tuesday: The biggest speaker on the second night of the convention is President Bill Clinton. Normally, the spouse of the candidate gives a speech on the first night of the convention. Given that Bill Clinton is also the 42nd President of the United States, though, it makes sense that his slot was moved to Tuesday. Also appearing that evening will be the “Mothers of the Movement,” a group of women whose children have died in gun and/or police violence.

Wennesday: Though it isn’t listed on the schedule yet, the final speaker of the third night will almost certainly be vice-presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia. Also speaking will be President Barack Obama, who remains very popular with Democrats of many different stripes, as well as Vice President Joe Biden.

Thursday: The big act of the final night of the DNC will be Hillary Clinton, who will become the first woman to ever accept the presidential nomination of a major party. Before that, though, there will be an introduction of Clinton from her daughter Chelsea.

A number of other officials, including Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, are expected to address the convention, though the dates and times haven’t been confirmed yet.

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How unified is the Democratic Party?

Last week, there were clear signs that the Republican Party is not as unified as their leaders hoped it would be. With last week’s news of leaked documents showing that the Democratic National Committee may have helped try to defeat Bernie Sanders, it is unclear how the Vermont senator’s supporters will respond to Hillary Clinton’s nomination. The announcement that DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz is set to resign after the convention may placate some, but there may still be signs of discontent from progressive voices within the party.

How will Tim Kaine perform?

Tim Kaine is not the pick many in the party wanted. He’s a moderate senator from a swing state, but he’s not a member of the Sanders wing of the party. How he positions himself in his speech, especially how much he stresses his work as a civil rights attorney, could go a along way toward mending fences with Sanders supporters.

Will there be any spontaneity?

The Republican Convention, for all its flaws, was never dull. There is likely some concern that, next to the RNC, the Democratic Convention will be, well, boring. Clinton is a policy-focused politician who doesn’t exactly have a flair for drama — and when she tries to be loose and entertaining, it can at times come off as forced. The party may have to find some other way to make this week just as “must-see” as Donald Trump’s shin-dig in Cleveland.

What will Bernie say?

There is little chance that Bernie Sanders will “pull a Cruz,” and not explicitly tell his supporters to go out and vote for Clinton. He’s already done so repeatedly. But the left-wing firebrand has clearly launched a new movement within the Democratic Party, one he’s made clear he wants to keep leading after this election. It’s unclear how much of his convention speech will be used to further that movement versus talking about Clinton.

Can Hillary win over the wary?

This year’s election is unique in that both major party’s candidates are quite unpopular. So far, Donald Trump is more unpopular, but Clinton has seen her poll numbers fall after she was admonished by the Justice Department for her handling of confidential information as Secretary of State. The question now is whether she can get moderate Republicans and independents who don’t like Trump but aren’t sold on her to come into her camp and push her to victory in November.

Note: An earlier version of this story had the wrong date for Joe Biden’s convention address.

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