Presidential nominations give the candidate and the party national exposure.
The first "open" party convention was held by Jacksonian Democrats in the 1830s.
The party's candidates for president and vice president are nominated at the convention.
The winner of the 1924 Democratic Convention was determined by 103 ballots.
Backroom deals were made and strange bedfellows emerged.
Both parties have chosen their standard bearers on the first ballot.
Even though this has been the case, convention coverage by the media guarantees a national audience.
Rules and credentials debates, keynote speeches, platform debates, nomination of the presidential candidates, selection of a running mate, and acceptance speeches are some of the key convention proceedings.
The location of the convention can affect the party's choice and create a positive or negative public impression.
Adlai Stevenson, Illinois's favorite son and the candidate backed by the home state, gave the welcoming address in 1952 and many political observers felt that it contributed to his nomination that year.
The riots in Chicago in 1968 made a national audience feel that the Democratic Party was not unified.
If there had been no riots, the 1968 general election results would have been different.
The McGovern Commission rules were supposed to create a fair representation of minorities.
McGovern was given the nomination because of two key votes, one giving McGovern all California's delegation and the other denying Chicago's Mayor Daley representation.
Reagan supporters tried to force Gerald Ford to announce his choice for vice president before the voting began.
The convention voted against the rule change and there was no chance of Reagan pulling off an upset.
At the 1980 Democratic Convention, Senator Ted Kennedy tried to use a rule change to defeat Jimmy Carter.
There was a rule that delegates pledged to a candidate had to vote for him on the first ballot.
Kennedy wanted to change the rule so that some of Carter's supporters would join his camp.
Kennedy knew he had no chance of wresting Carter's nomination away from him.
Public debates have been provided by platform fights.
The party platforms usually fade into the woodwork once the convention is finished, so it is ironic that these philosophical arguments could affect the party.
At the Democratic Convention in 1948, a platform fight over civil rights caused the Southern Dixiecrats to walk out.
At the 1964 Republican Convention, Goldwater conservatives were in control of the party's platform and refused to make any concessions to the Rockefeller moderates in the areas of civil rights and dealings with political extremists.
In 1968, arguments over a Vietnam peace plank split the Democratic convention and hurt Humphrey's chances against Nixon.
Political relations have been improved by using the platform.
Ford made concessions to Reagan's views regarding detente when he knew he had the nomination.
Kennedy's supporters were allowed to add a job program to the platform by Carter in 1980.
In order to get Jackson's support in the campaign, Michael Dukakis had to agree to support some of Jesse Jackson's platform modifications.
The reelection of President George H. W. Bush was hurt in 1992 by columnist Patrick Buchanan.
The platform debates about abortion caused division in both parties.
Both the Republican and Democratic conventions avoided televised platform controversy by reaching consensus over issues prior to the start of the convention.
The platform committee of the Republican Party was instructed by George W. Bush to tone down some of the extreme provisions of earlier Republican platforms.
Both parties stressed in 2004 how they would wage a successful war against terrorism and keep the American homeland safe while also maintaining a strong economy.
The 2008 Democratic and Republican platforms are summarized.
The balloting for president is preceded by political wheeling and dealing.
At the 2004 Democratic convention, Senator Barack Obama gave a keynote speech.
"We are one people, all of us pledge our allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America," Obama said to the country.
That's what this election is about.
The speech thrust Obama into a national role, one that eventually led to his election as president of the United States.
A nomination speech can bring attention to a candidate.
Kennedy's graceful and tactful speech was a factor in many delegates urging him to run in 1960.
In 1988 a youthful Bill Clinton had delegates cheering when he ended his speech for Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis.
When Clinton announced his own candidacy three years later, he promised to speak in a way that would be brief if nominated.
Some Americans felt that the Republicans were giving too much influence to conservatives and the religious right when they allowed defeated candidates Patrick Buchanan and Pat Robertson to speak in 1992.
The parties have learned from their past mistakes.
Since the start of televised convention proceedings, the Democrats and Republicans have run the most tightly controlled political conventions.
The themes of the campaigns were orchestrated by each party.
They chose keynote speakers to address both the party faithful and the television audience.
Despite the media's criticism, both parties achieved their purpose of putting their best foot forward and achieving a significant campaign bounce for their candidates.
Both parties tried to convince the electorate that they represented their interests by spotlighting the party's most popular figures, such as General Colin Powell and Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Vice President Al Gore was able to separate himself from President Clinton at the 2000 Democratic Convention.
Clinton spoke on the first night of the convention.
In 2004, the Democratic candidate Senator John Kerry stressed the importance of his military service, while the President pledged to continue the war against terrorism.
In 2008, Barack Obama spoke at an outdoor Denver stadium before more than 70,000 people who called for change, while John McCain spoke of his faith and service to the country.
In recent conventions, the balloting for president has been a formality.
The tactics used by the opponents have put the nomination in doubt.
This is counteracted through a tight organization on the floor of the convention and the use of such techniques as verbal and visual demonstrations.
Promises are made to delegates who are wavering.
A bandwagon effect is achieved.
In the selection of the vice presidential running mate, wheeling and dealing can occur.
The precedent of having the presidential nominees choose their running mates has been established since 1940.
The philosophy of the presidential nominees in picking a vice presidential candidate has ranged from trying to balance the ticket to paying off a political debt.
The choices of Lyndon Johnson as John Kennedy's running mate in 1960, Walter Mondale as Jimmy Carter's selection in 1976, and Lloyd Bentsen's addition to the Dukakis ticket in 1988 show the balancing principle.
Senator Thomas Eagleton was selected by George McGovern in a rushed decision.
Eagleton was forced to leave the ticket after the media uncovered his history of mental illness.
There is a sense of history in the elevation of a person.
Mondale's choice of Ferraro was historic because it signaled the willingness of the Democratic Party to recognize that a woman could become president.
By the closing night of the convention, there is an attempt to heal wounds and get the party faithful ready for the general campaign.
In the event that a president dies in office, the vice president must be qualified to be president.
Questions about Quayle's qualifications hurt Bush's campaign.
Sometimes breaking the rules helps the image of a candidate.
Every previous rule was violated by Clinton's choice of Al Gore.
The baby boomer ticket caught the fancy of the American public.
Bob Dole surprised everyone in 1996 when he chose Jack Kemp, a retired Representative and cabinet member during Ronald Reagan's presidency.
The first Jewish candidate for vice president was chosen by Vice President Gore.
Richard Cheney was selected by George W. Bush as his running mate.
Delaware Senator Joseph Biden was selected by Barack Obama as one of his rivals for the presidency.
The Senate Judiciary and Foreign Relations committees were chaired by Biden.
John McCain chose a governor who was relatively unknown to the country.
The Republicans chose a woman for vice president for the first time.
She hurt the ticket because of her inexperience.
The party tries to portray a picture of party unity once the ticket is set.
The acceptance speeches vow to work for the good of the country.
Bush made a pledge to "Read my lips, no new taxes" in 1988 in order to put the Democrats on the defensive.
If the nomination was round one of the battle for the presidency, the campaign is the final round.
At the convention, the candidate received a lot of support.
After the 1992 convention, Bill Clinton took a campaign bus trip.
After losing the convention bounce that he had in the polls, Michael Dukakis decided to go on vacation.
Both Senator Dole and President Clinton had poll bounces after their convention.
Vice President Al Gore had a lead that lasted from Labor Day to the presidential debates.
For the first time in modern political history, John Kerry did not receive a bounce after his party's convention in 2004.
After his party's convention, President George W. Bush got a five-point bounce and led the race after Labor Day.
When Kerry closed the gap, he kept this lead.
Neither candidate benefited from a bump that lasted in 2008.
A successful race for president depends on the candidate's ability to develop a strong campaign organization, have a specific strategy, and use the media effectively.
A candidate has a war chest of money.
A new strategy must be developed with the help of the national committee.
More and more people are using campaign consultants.
They keep track of daily polls and plan the logistics of the campaign.
Dick Morris was an advisor to Clinton.
Clinton was able to maintain his popularity during the campaign because of his advice to the president, called "triangulation".
The press secretary works closely with the candidate.
The candidate is ready to enter the final leg of his or her journey to the White House using these factors.
The campaign should be targeted.
The best way to get an electoral majority is for candidates to plot it out.
Some candidates look at the largest industrial states while others use a Southern strategy.
Candidates have looked at how previous candidates have performed in states and the potential for victory in a given state.
Clinton's electoral strategy in 1996 was to maintain and expand his base of states.
The same southern states he carried in the 1992 election were included.
Dole tried to hold the traditional Republican mountain states.
In states with a total of 100 electoral votes, there would be a battleground if both candidates held their states.
If both candidates held on to their states, the electoral contest would be very close.
It was one of the closest electoral contests, with Bush winning 271 electoral votes and Gore winning 267.
Bush won both Florida and Ohio in the 2004 election.
One "faithless elector" from Minnesota voted for JohnEdwards in the official vote.
The electoral map was expanded by Obama's win in Virginia, North Carolina, Florida, Nevada, and Colorado.
The vote was official.
Nebraska allocates its electoral votes as a result of who wins the state's congressional districts, so Obama picked up one electoral vote there.
Identifying with one's party is done by the Democrats and downplayed by the Republicans because they have a slightly smaller population than the Democrats.
If a candidate is the incumbent, he should take advantage of it.
A sitting president will try to use the office of the presidency as much as possible in order to elevate himself above the political fray.
If domestic or foreign policy is in disarray, incumbency can hurt a sitting president.
As a result of the Iran hostage crisis, Carter's chances were hurt.
It has been difficult for incumbent vice presidents to be elected.
Even though they had held the office of vice president, Richard Nixon, Hubert Humphrey, and Walter Mondale were defeated.
In 1996 President Clinton was able to position himself as a moderate in the battle against extremists in the Republican Party.
George W. Bush used incumbency and the fact that he was the best candidate to wage a war against terrorism to his advantage.
The voters responded by tying the Iraq war to terrorism.
John McCain and Barack Obama both tried to change the direction of the country in the 2008 election.
The electorate identified McCain's policies with those of Bush.
Obama was able to establish himself as the candidate of change.
The voter responds to an image.
This sword has two edges.
The public seems to like personality more than issues.
The media can investigate the most intimate details of a candidate's life.
60 Minutes gave the candidate and his wife a chance to respond to the allegations.
Ad campaigns and face-to-face debates are used to portray their opponents negatively.
Reagan was portrayed as an old man by Mondale in a 1984 debate, while Bush used Willie Horton to portray Michael Dukakis as soft on crime.
The Republicans were portrayed as extremists by Bill Clinton.
Clinton was able to position himself as the self-proclaimed protectors of the middle class because of the shutdown of the government in 1995 and 1996 and attempts by the GOP to lower the increases in entitlements.
The theme of the 2000 campaign for the Republicans was to "restore honor and dignity" to the White House, while portraying Vice President Gore as a candidate who embellished his accomplishments and advocated big government.
Bush was portrayed as a candidate without experience or knowledge to be president by Gore.
In 2004, George W. Bush was able to portray his opponent John Kerry as a "flip-flopper" and Kerry was put on the defensive throughout the campaign, even though he attempted to make the election a referendum on Bush's economic policies and the Iraq war.
A coalition of young voters, African-Americans, women, and Hispanics gave Obama a majority in the popular vote.
It is necessary to attract the support of different groups.
Ethnic, religious, and other minority support is important for success in a campaign.
Democrats have tried to get votes from organized labor, minority groups, Jews, and big-city residents.
Republicans are seen as the party of the rich and big business interests.
Candidates have gone after groups that will translate into a centrist coalition since seeing that Reagan's strategy of attracting traditional Democrats worked.
A group of women voters, some of whom are single parents, others who have, besides working, the responsibility of transporting their kids to soccer games, voted for President Clinton in 1996.
The coalition of women voters voted disproportionately for Clinton.
The gender gap was a factor in 2000.
According to exit polls, in 2004, Bush made inroads into traditional Democratic constituencies while expanding his own base.
A new gap emerged between single women and married women, given the name of "security moms", as Bush decreased the overall gender gap.
For the first time since Ronald Reagan's election, Bush received a majority of the Catholic vote, even though Kerry was a Catholic.
Bush was able to increase by a significant margin the turnout of so-called evangelical voters, who gave him over 70 percent of their vote.
Younger voters gave Kerry a 54 percent margin of victory.
If the Gulf War had taken place during the presidential campaign, George H. W. Bush would have been elected for a second term.
The lesson to be learned is that a candidate must be aware of the issues facing the country and hope that world events play into his hands.
Franklin Roosevelt used the problems of the Great Depression and the hopes of the New Deal to win the election in 1932.
The country would have been hard-pressed to defeat a sitting president during a national emergency because of his popularity during World War II.
Eisenhower was projected into the role of Republican standard bearer in 1952 because of his fear of communism and military success.
The image of a more conservative Richard Nixon was helped by John Kennedy's hopes for a new generation.
The war in Vietnam was unpopular in 1968 and Richard Nixon promised to end it.
You can begin to understand why President Clinton struck such a positive chord with the electorate by looking at the top 20 worries of the American electorate in 1996.
The voters became convinced that the incumbent president deserved reelection because of his convention theme of "building a bridge to 21st Century" and his constant slogan of protecting education, the environment, Medicare, and Medicaid.
George W. Bush made education reform a priority in his 2000 campaign.
Voters liked his slogan that he would leave no child behind.
The events of 2001 dominated the campaign.
Bush's senior political consultant Karl Rove developed a three-pronged strategy.
Bush was portrayed as a commander-in-chief who could protect the country against another terrorist attack because he had emphasized his "steady leadership".
Bush became the champion of moral values, opposing same sex marriage and supporting a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
McCain tried to portray Obama as a candidate who didn't have the experience to be president.
McCain's mistakes in dealing with the economy turned voters against him.
McCain's poll numbers declined along with the economy after Obama pounced on the remark.