The Role of Party Conventions TodayConventions serve a different function than they used to, but they still can have an effect on the outcome of the election.
By: Mikaela Rogers Ziegler, Sibley Scribe
With election season upon us, one staple for each candidate’s campaign has already passed: the national party conventions. Back in the day, the conventions were the method in which the parties nominated their candidates. Now, though, people generally know who will be nominated, so the conventions take on a whole new atmosphere.
The Republican National Convention held in Tampa in August affirmed Mitt Romney as the Republican candidate, but that really wasn’t its main point. While there was a fair amount of Obama bashing, Romney seemed to want to prove that he was no different from the average American. The audience heard stories about how the Romney family had been there for them in their toughest times and how connected they were with their Mormon church.
There was, of course, the acceptance speech from Mr. Romney himself along with speeches from his vice presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, and his wife. With celebrity appearances by people like Clint Eastwood, the RNC was definitely a spectacle to behold. However it was not all fun and games. Fairly soon after speeches were made, fact checkers called out the falsehoods in Paul Ryan’s speech.
A week later the Democratic National Convention was held in Charlotte, North Carolina. It was already known that Obama would again be the candidate. The convention was focused on the job done by him the past four years, but was very forward looking in general, and thanks to a monumental speech by Bill Clinton that very clearly addressed just about every Republican talking point, and to a very “human” speech by First Lady Michelle Obama, the president ended up with a bit of a boost after the convention. There were the obligatory swipes at Mitt Romney, but the main purpose of both conventions was to glorify the respective candidates.
While candidates’ poll numbers can temporarily rise after the convention, the actual effect the conventions have on the outcome of the election is not clear. Conventions do little to sway the opinions of people who already have strongly-held views, but the fanfare and confetti can be influential to people who are not yet sure of whom they are going to support. But regardless of the celebrity appearances and the colorful confetti, the real effect of the conventions will not be seen until November 6.