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How Important Are Political Conventions?

August 29th, 2012

Thanks to 24-hour news cycles, constantly-updating polls, and things like Twitter and Facebook, the suspense of finding out who’s actually going to be nominated by a party to run for President is gone.  These days, even running mates are picked well before the convention!

We also get to see candidates’ platforms sooner.  After all, millions of dollars are spent every month in TV and radio ads to tell us what candidates think and how they would handle certain issues.  We also get to see the candidates go head-to-head — without all of the fancy graphics and witty copywriters — in debates.

So, have we outgrown political conventions?

Absolutely not!

Here’s why they’re absolutely essential to our Presidential elections:

–        They give each party a chance to appear on primetime TV

The exposure conventions get is much bigger than any exposure candidates could hope to get from a TV ad or a well-written press release.  For a few days, they get the exclusive attention of the big TV networks.

–         They give lesser-known members of the parties a chance to shine

When Barack Obama spoke at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, it was the first time many Americans had even heard of him — and clearly he made an impression on them!  The same can be said for Sarah Palin — who Americans didn’t know much about until her convention speech in 2008.

–         They get people excited

Political conventions are like pep rallies.  They don’t necessarily determine the outcome of the election (or of the big game), but they give everyone a morale boost.  And when people are excited, they’re more likely to talk about the issues and the candidates with friends — meaning more people get involved in the political process.

So, what effect will Hurricane Isaac have on the Republican National Convention this year?  The Republicans already had to cancel the first day of their convention.  Now, they’re splitting primetime with hurricane coverage.  Will this affect their chances come November?

 

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