A Convention No Longer?


As surely as the balloons drop at every convention’s end, questions arise about whether these elaborately scripted four-day political shows will survive for another election cycle. Given that questioning the future of conventions has become, well, conventional, it would be easy to dismiss this year’s talk but for a couple reasons.

On the Republican side, the second hurricane-shortened convention in four years has party leaders at the highest level asking questions about whether conventions in their current form are worth the cost. “These are very expensive propositions to put on. I think that given as much news people get today and the way they get their news, I’m not sure that having a four-day convention for the future makes a lot of sense,” Speaker John Boehner said earlier this week, according to an article in Roll Call.

Meanwhile, on the Democratic side, Politico’s Glenn Thrush reports that President Obama’s advisers were “bored with the traditional one-city format for national conventions” and seriously considered a radical departure from tradition before finally settling for a three-night affair in Charlotte. 

So here’s the question for Ricochet: Do you think four-night conventions are a convention whose time has come and gone?

There are 10 comments.

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  1. Profile Photo Thatcher

    First, I think the 4-day convention needs to continue to be planned for, because there is always the possibility of a contested nomination and the convention might actually have to get down to work.

    I realize this hasn’t been a real possibility since … ’76 with Reagan/Ford so it seems now a very remote possibility.  In ’80 you had the issue of no clear VP.

    Second, as this recent RNC shows, it is still a necessary event for the party to define itself and steel itself for the coming campaign.  Doing it any other way will risk losing the message in background noise.  My impression from this convention was the GOP getting its game face on.

    My impression is that the GOP should avoid hurricane prone cities for a while.  Also, while you need to schedule for 4 days, perhaps default to 3 days once the primaries are over and it’s clear that there is no risk of a contested nomination.  A 3-day political extravaganza may be more than sufficient for current attention spans, and a fourth simply unnecessary and an option to cancel.  I think the 3-day format allowed for a well-run event.

    • #1
  2. Profile Photo Member

    I was just thinking that I want to see these things every two years — run a convention during the mid-terms, too.

    • #2
  3. Profile Photo Inactive

    I have no view on whether 4 days is right, but Republicans would be crazy not to have a convention next time.  I heard Sununu said something along the lines of, “It cost $100MM, and I could do a lot of good with $100MM.”  Really?  Sure, you could buy a lot of ads, but can you do better than 4 nights of full, prime-time national news coverage?  I doubt it.

    • #3
  4. Profile Photo Thatcher

    I am not sure how that would sell, but boy, junkie that I am, I would love to see it.

    DrewInWisconsin: I was just thinking that I want to see these things every two years — run a convention during the mid-terms, too. · 1 hour ago

    • #4
  5. Profile Photo Inactive

    Ask me early next week when we see how much of a post-convention bounce Mitt gets.

    • #5
  6. Profile Photo Inactive

    They do seem to rally the faithful.  

    • #6
  7. Profile Photo Member

    I dunno, I kind of despise these things. At the same time, I miss the old school ones — filled with long pronouncements that start, “the Sundune State, the Quality Nectarine State, the Great State of Arkanvania, casts 17 votes for Buck Mulligan!”

    • #7
  8. Profile Photo Inactive

    I watched the whole thing from my ringside seat in front of TV, here in Canada. I paid little attention to the first day which was lost, but stayed up late to watch the next three days. I had done my research so knew Romney as a man, husband, father, businessman, etc., but for those who hadn’t, there is now no excuse for saying he is too reserved. Now we all know him.

    Three days felt good to me, and it certainly got the message out, and rallied the troops for the rest of the campaign. Brilliant! 

    Every two years? Might be a good idea with the one between elections used to keep score and galvanize the Party.

    • #8
  9. Profile Photo Contributor

    I agree with the comments here that the format certainly worked in the party’s favor this year, and I enjoyed watching all three nights. The cost-benefit question will become more urgent, of course, if the networks start refusing to cover as many nights, which is a real possibility. Even if the first night had taken place this year, the networks weren’t planning to cover it.

    • #9
  10. Profile Photo Contributor

    Bagodonuts, one can only imagine you mean stately, plump Buck Mulligan.

    • #10

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