Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
The Republican National Convention is an event held every four years in the United States for the purpose of nominating and confirming the Republican candidates for President and Vice President. It is usually held in late August or early September, approximately two months before the Presidential Election in November, and it marks the end of the Republican primary season and the start of the general campaign. Each year, a new site is chosen for the Republican National Convention; organizers tend to favor Republican strongholds.
This convention doesn't just determine the candidates for the Presidency. Republicans also use the convention to make changes to their party platform and to formally adopt a new party platform. The Republican National Convention is also used to write the rules and policies for the Republican party, including the rules which govern the primary election process for the next Presidential primary season. Republicans also use the Convention as a chance to meet up with each other to exchange information and ideas.
Republicans have been holding a national convention since 1856. The Republican National Convention is organized by the Committee on Arrangements, a branch of the Republican National Committee. This group is responsible for choosing a venue, organizing speakers and security, coordinating with the media, and making other efforts to ensure that the Republican National Convention runs smoothly.
At the Convention, delegates from every American state and territory are pledged to vote for the candidates who won their regions during the primary; Republicans use a winner-take-all system, so if a candidate gets the majority of vote in, say, North Carolina, that candidate is awarded all of the delegates for that state. Roughly 125 unpledged delegates also attend the convention; they are generally high-ranking party officials.
It is typical for a presumptive nominee to be identified months before the election, since one candidate often takes the lead early in the primary process. However, sometimes the battle for the nomination may be more contested, with two or more candidates taking roughly equal votes in the primaries.
The media often plays close attention to the Republican National Convention, because the Convention usually features special guest speakers such as prominent Republicans in government, and the events at the Convention can sometimes have long-term policy implications. It is also possible to identify rising stars in the Party at the convention; they are often invited to introduce keynote speakers, or to offer special addresses of their own.
@MissDaphne - I admit that the conventions are a bit more ceremonial these days, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to them. It's a chance for a big display of party unity, which can be important after acrimonious primaries. Party members who may have backed other candidates than the one finally chosen have a chance to show that they are now behind the new guy, whatever names they may have called him before.
And yeah, there's some showing off, but that's not necessarily a bad thing; it gives parties a chance to showcase rising stars to a national audience that might not be familiar with them yet. Also, it's a chance for the vice presidential nominee to introduce him- or
herself to a wider audience, if s/he is not well known yet.
I admit, though, I would love to see a convention like the one on The West Wing where going into the Democratic National Convention, there was no clear majority and there had to be a lot of negotiation and deal-making. On the other hand, the most interesting stuff would probably take place off-camera!
In the past, conventions often had a lot still to be determined. Does anyone else remember reading about the "smoke-filled rooms" where "dark horse" candidates were chosen by a small group of powerful men when no one candidate had a clear majority?
I know it's better that the primaries now determine the presidential candidates; obviously, it's way more democratic. But it makes for much duller national conventions! Seems like now, the conventions are just speeches and a chance for people to show off. I don't bother to watch.