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When will the GOP hold their 2008 convention?
The Democrats have stated they are holding their convention the week of 8/25, right after the Beijing Summer Olympics. Historically, the party holding the White House gets to hold their convention last, which would force the GOP to schedule their convention in September.
A little history: It used to be there were advantages in having an earlier convention due to money. For a candidate taking public money for the primaries and the general election, they wouldn't get the general election money until after the convention. For example, Bob Dole in 1996 had a huge money problem in May and June. He was broke, and could do little advertising until he received his general election money in early August.
But 8 years later, much had changed. Both Bush and Kerry opted out of public financing of their primary campaigns, and could therefore spend unlimited money until they had their convention. So the later the convention, the less time the General Election public money had to cover. This is why the Kerry campaign was looking at ways of potentially delaying the official acceptance of the nomination, so they could continue to use their unlimited primary money.
CQ also noted that in 2004:
The Republicans moved first and scheduled their convention to begin the last week in August. To avoid competing with the summer Olympics that month, the Democrats held their convention four weeks earlier — which gave the GOP an extra month to attack Democratic nominee John Kerry and shape the message of its own convention.In 1988, Dukakis basically went back to Massachusetts for 4 weeks between the conventions, and wasted valuable time. But the time between conventions can work both ways. In 1992, Clinton and Gore took a highly positively covered bus tour through the mid-west after their convention that generated momentum that lasted throughout the summer.
Which brings us to 2008. Looking at the money situation, a late convention is now a good thing, so Dean was smart in announcing a late convention date. Plus it's a great week as it leads right into the Labor Day weekend, a great time to start the fall campaign. I saw a quote (can't find the link) that said the GOP will choose their date without regard to what any other group (i.e., the Dems) has done. So what does the GOP do?
First, they could go before the Democrats, but it would have to be at least 3 weeks before to avoid the Olympics. But that would be a bad political move, given what I just laid out, and, traditionally, they do get to go second.
Could they say they were going the same week as the Democrats? That would be pretty audacious of them, but given that quote that they would make their decision without regard to what the Dems have done, I wonder if they're laying the groundwork. That would be an interesting game of chicken. But given that the Democrats announced their date 3 months ago, I think the GOP would lose.
So that leaves them a later date. What are their choices?
Monday 9/1 to Thursday 9/4: Monday 9/1 is Labor Day. Starting the convention on Labor Day would not be best in terms of media coverage. Do you think the delegates and VIPs want to give up their Labor Day weekend? The media would be grumpy about it also, especially with the Democrats just finishing a few days earlier.
Tuesday 9/2 to Friday 9/5: Moving the final acceptance speech from the most watched TV day (Thursday) to the 2nd least watched (Friday)? I don't think so.
Monday 9/8 to Thursday 9/11: Having the big acceptance speech on 9/11? Wow! That could certainly appeal to the GOP. But it doesn't leave much time after the convention, only 7+ weeks before election day, and only a couple of weeks before debates usually start. Any controversy or gaffe at the convention, and you could find precious days being used up.
Looking at the choices, I think the GOP will go with a 9/8 start date, finishing on 9/11, but I bet they're not happy with their choices.