Friday, January 30, 2004

The Background on the W&L Mock Convention

(Yes, this post is back-dated)

The Tradition: Like everything at Washington and Lee, the mock convention is a tradition that dates back nearly one hundred years. In each presidential election year since 1908, the students of Washington and Lee University hold a mock convention for the out-of-power party. The purpose of the mock convention is to simulate the real convention that the national party will have later in the year. Supposedly, W&L's convention is one of the most accurate predictors of the eventual party nomination that is out there. The mock convention has correctly predicted the nominee in 17 out of 22 attempts. This may not seem like an impressive batting average, but it's important to remember that predicting a nominee was quite difficult in the days before popular primary elections.

Choosing the Nominee: About a year prior to the mock convention, W&L students begin to divide up into 55 different delegations. These delegations represent the 50 states, the District of Columbia and several territories. The heads of these delegations then do a great deal of research on their state and how the different presidential candidates are campaigning in those states. Eventually, this research is used to decide how the delegation's delegates will be alotted between the different candidates. This process enables W&L to make accurate predictions regardless of the actual party affiliations of the participants.