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Party Conventions Formalize Nomination of Presidential Candidates

Every four years, the two major U.S. political parties hold national conventions to designate who they will place on the November presidential ballot. The Republican Convention begins August 27 in Tampa, Florida. The Democratic Convention starts on September 3 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

It’s August and September, time for the Democratic and Republican Parties to officially crown their presidential candidates for the November election.

Every four years, the U.S. political parties hold conventions. They follow procedures that formally select each party’s presidential candidate.  

The conventions begin with the seating of each state’s delegation.  These delegates are pledged, by the results of the state primary elections and caucuses, to specific presidential candidates.

The next order of business is the adoption of the party’s so-called “platform” - a set of principles and positions the party will stand for in the coming election.  Sometimes, there can be a lot of contention over these points if they are controversial.

The official selection of each party’s presidential candidate starts with the formal nomination of all those who contended for the top spot on the ticket. This usually takes place on the second to last day of the convention.

“The next candidate to be nominated this evening for president of the United States is Senator Barack Obama of Illinois," announced Representative Nancy Pelosi in 2008.

After the nominations, the next procedure - a bit of theater called the Roll Call of the States - takes place. While the person who clinched the nomination is almost always already known, the delegate totals for each candidate are announced. 

Determining each party’s presidential candidate is simple - the contender who holds a majority of the delegates wins the nomination.  

Unsuccessful White House seekers often pledge their support at the convention to the one who will get their party’s nod. 

For both major parties, the final evening comes to a climax with the candidate’s  acceptance speech. 

The conventions end with a splash of confetti and cheers. The next morning, the candidates start the roughly two months of strenuous campaigning that lead to the first Tuesday in November, and for one of them, the White House.


Jeffrey Young

Jeffrey Young came to the “Corruption” beat after years of doing news analysis, primarily on global strategic issues such as nuclear proliferation.  During most of 2013, he was on special assignment in Baghdad and elsewhere with the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (SIGIR).  Previous VOA activities include VOA-TV, where he created the “How America Works” and “How America Elects” series, and the “Focus” news analysis unit.

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