Presidential Nominating Convention

This is pretty much a squeal to the page on presidential primaries. This is where the nomination process officially ends.

The main thing that happens at a presidential nominating convention is that the party’s candidate for president is officially selected to run in the general election. This is done through a roll call vote, where the state delegates cast their vote for the candidate of their choice. In addition to this there are two minor activities that take place during the convention.

The delegates also adopt their parties political platform and decide upon the rules for the next nomination cycle.

History of the Convention

The history of the convention as we know it today is very short. The emergence of the primary system has changed the role of the convention. The convention is no longer where the candidates are chosen. Sure they still wrap up the nomination process and the candidate still needs the majority of delegates to get the nomination, but the real decision has already been made in the primaries and caucuses. In fact the candidates who do not prevail in the primaries pledge their delegates to the primary winner, usually making it an almost unanimous vote. The conventions have basically been reduced to a huge campaign event starting the general election.

Prior to the primaries and caucuses, the battle for the nomination was done at the convention. The political bosses would bring their confidants and deals would be made and the bosses would eventually agree upon a candidate. The convention was the place people looked to find out who would be a party’s candidate. All focus was on the convention.

Through the primary system a candidate will most likely gain enough candidates to seal their nomination long before the convention. People no longer need to look at the convention to know who will represent the party in the general election.

Role of the Convention

There is a bit of a controversy about the role of the convention today. It is no loner significant in the nomination of the candidate. Much criticism has come up that it is just an waste of campaign money. It has been reduced to a over-sized campaign event. Nevertheless, it still has symbolic importance. Formally the candidate is not nominated until the delegates cast their votes at the convention. It marks the start of the general election campaign and it gives the nominated candidate a huge audience as they make their acceptance speech. This speech will be under massive scrutiny as the voters begin to consider who they will vote for at the election in November.

The Bounce

The attention and and almost exclusive audience gives the candidate the opportunity to shift public opinion to their favor. The concentrated media coverage of the strong political party leaders and their speeches culminating in the acceptance speech of the vice presidential candidate and climaxing with the presidential candidates speech usually boosts the candidate’s poll numbers. This is termed as “the bounce” and is a closely watched development in the race. A good bounce is important for the candidates perspectives for winning the election in November. A candidate can usually ride a significant bounce to victory. If the bounce is not large enough the candidate will struggle.


Although the nominating convention’s role has changed, it still marks a milestone in the U.S. presidential election. Along with the primaries and the TV Debates it still remains on of the most important events of the election.

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