In other years, the lack of a bounce has hurt a faltering campaign. Democrat George McGovern didn’t get one in 1972, while Kerry’s favorability rating went down after his 2004 convention. Those were bad signs for both candidates, who fell short in their bids for the White House. Given the latest polls, such a bounce might be more important for Mitt Romney than for Obama.
4. The delegates are a bunch of political hacks on a taxpayer-funded junket.
First of all, the delegates travel to the conventions at their own expense. Second, you do not need to be a current or former elected official to attend. The gatherings are certainly dominated by those with political experience, but ordinary voters — with a little ambition, luck and disposable income — have a decent shot at attending.
The delegate process varies among states, but anyone can apply with the local party office. Each state is allotted delegates in proportion to its population and with regard to its partisan voting history. States that are deeper shades of blue, as measured by Democratic votes for president and for governor, have more delegates invited to the Democratic convention, for example. California has been allocated 611 Democratic delegates this year, while Delaware has 32.
5. There are no surprises.
Even though a vice presidential candidate is now more likely to be selected a few weeks ahead of time, the convention is often a coming-out party, setting the tone for the rest of his or her political career. The prototypical example occurred four years ago when Sarah Palin was thrust onto the scene by John McCain. Her folksy personality charmed or rankled, depending on where you fell on the ideological spectrum. The GOP convention was must-see television simply because the country was discovering this fascinating individual.
And in 2004, a young state senator from Illinois thrilled the Democratic crowd with a speech that showcased his life story and his belief in a better America. We all know what happened to that guy.
While Romney’s running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, is a rising conservative star in Washington, most Americans don’t know much about him. The Republican convention is his chance to change that. However, with Sen. Marco Rubio delivering the speech introducing Romney, many in the party may be surprised to find themselves wishing that their nominee had made a different choice.
Martin Cohen is a political science professor at James Madison University.
Read more from Outlook:
Five myths about the veepstakes
Five myths about campaign ads
Five myths about swing states
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