Democratic National Convention

What is the Democratic National Convention?

The Democratic National Convention is the political meeting of the Democratic Party to nominate the Party’s Presidential and Vice Presidential candidates. The convention also aims to set the goals or platform of the Democratic Party.  The conventions have been held since 1832. At the convention, delegates from all the 50 states participate in the selection of the Party’s nominees. The Democratic National Convention marks the formal end of the Primary election period and the commencement of the general election season.

Democratic National Convention

When and where is the Convention held?

Since 1952, Party national conventions have been held in late August after the Summer Olympics. Last Year, however,  the convention was pushed to July, after the Republicans rescheduled their convention. The Democratic National Committee selects the location for the convention from a pool of interested host cities. Factors such as logistics, and strategy decide the location of the convention

The selection process:

The delegates are elected by different means, and State parties have complicated ways of choosing who they send to the convention. The party’s presidential nominee is selected in a series of individual state caucuses and primary elections. Two types of delegates – pledged delegates and superdelegates- vote at the national convention. The pledged delegates vote based on the state primary and caucus results. Their votes are confirmed for the candidate who is victorious in their State. Some delegates enter the convention unpledged to any candidate. The superdelegates were created before the 1984 elections, as a means for the party establishment to exert some control over the nomination process. Superdelegates include members of Congress, Governors, and even some former presidents. Unlike pledged delegates, Superdelegates are free to vote for anyone they choose. However, the superdelegates seldom vote against the popular choice. Before 1936 nomination for president required two-thirds of the total number of delegates. However getting that many votes were literally impossible and the rules were changed to a simple majority. The primary election season usually identifies a clear nominee or a front-runner. However, when a single candidate does not emerge, a brokered convention could be held. In a brokered convention nominee is selected through a series of ballots and bargaining between leading candidates At the 2016 convention, Hilary Clinton had 2205 pledged delegates, and the majority of the superdelegates went with the popular choice, and she ended up being the Democratic party’s Presidential candidate.

The platform:

The delegates also vote on the party’s platform which is often a statement of principles and goals. This also sets the rules for the party’s electoral rules. The platform outlines the public policy goals and proposals. These are often referred to as planks and are generic. Occasionally something specific may find a place in the statement to appease a section. At the convention party activists hold meetings or rallies and lesser-known leaders deliver addresses during the day. Significant speeches by notable leaders are held in the evening.

Looking Ahead:

The Democratic Party voted overwhelmingly in favor of changing the superdelegate system wherein majority of the superdelegates will be bound to vote in line with the primaries result. This reform is expected to be brought in before 2020.


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