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  /  News   /  What to expect at the Republican, Democratic national conventions

What to expect at the Republican, Democratic national conventions

(NewsNation) — Voters won’t cast ballots in the 2024 presidential election until November, but the two candidates vying for the White House will receive their respective party’s official blessing at national conventions taking place this summer.

The Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention are only separated by just more than a month on the calendar and by just more than 90 miles geographically.

Both events will serve as the political highlight of the summer, as party delegates are tasked with removing the presumptive tag from the front of their candidates’ names.

Trump vs. Biden: Comparing presidential track records

But what happens at these events and what does the process to propel a candidate to the top of the Republican and Democratic ticket look like? Here’s what voters need to know heading into convention season.

What is the Republican National Convention?

Republicans will gather at Milwaukee’s Fiserv Forum from July 15-18, where they will again make former President Donald Trump their official nominee. In addition to confirming Trump, delegates will also confirm Trump’s pick for Vice President.

Trump has not publicly announced his choice for a running mate but has indicated he has settled on one. Finalists for the role have been identified, including North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, and New York Rep. Elise Stefanik.

More than 50,000 people, including 2,500 delegates, are expected to attend the RNC.

The first Republican National Convention was held in 1856 in Philadelphia.

What is the Democratic National Convention?

Democrats will gather at Chicago’s United Center from August 19-22. Biden appeared to be a lock for the party’s nomination heading into a debate with Trump in late June.

Who could be Democratic nominee if Biden drops out?

However, following last month’s debate — a performance in which Biden struggled with halted delivery and, at times, incoherent responses — calls for the president to step aside in favor of a younger, more energetic Democratic nominee have gotten louder.

Should Biden leave the race, delegates would be tasked with confirming a new ticket, which could include Vice President Kamala Harris, California Gov. Gavin Newsom or another party pick.

More than 50,000 attendees are expected to come to Chicago with at least 5,000 delegates expected in attendance.

The first Democratic National Convention was held in 1832 in Baltimore.

How does the delegate system work?

Delegates who travel to their party’s respective national convention are selected at the state level. Although state-to-state rules dictate how delegates are chosen, the primary method comes through a caucus and state primary.

Donald Trump, Joe Biden’s net worth before, during, after presidency

Caucuses are open meetings for voters who are registered to a specific political party. Most delegates are selected at the district level and are chosen to represent a specific region of their home state. However, others, known as at-large delegates, are chosen to represent the entire state.

How many delegates are awarded to each state differs by political party. The Democrats use a proportional system in which the number is determined proportionate to how many state caucuses or state primaries a candidate won.

The Republicans allow states to determine delegate numbers on either the proportional method or a winner-take-all system, in which the candidate garnering the most votes from a state’s caucus or primary gets all of the state’s delegates at the national convention.

Two types of delegates appear at the conventions. Pledged delegates must support the candidate that delegates were awarded through the caucus or primary system. Unpledged delegates attending the convention are free to support any presidential candidate they choose.

Why do the conventions still matter?

While the conventions produce a fair share of memorable speech moments, the candidate confirmation process has a very public impact coming out of the event. The conventions represent the unification of a party, which may have been splintered on some fronts entering the event.

Where Joe Biden stands on issues that matter to voters

Voting from each state’s delegate pool can provide a clearer sense of direction of which states could be critical to a candidate’s success, especially in a contested race.

States like Florida, Arizona, Nevada, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Florida have gained traction over the years as swing states, But researchers have found that presidential candidates traditionally see a bump of about five percentage points in preference polls coming of the conventions, Gallup research finds.

Issues to watch at this year’s RNC

The Trump campaign is expected to present a “streamlined” platform ahead of the RNC to lay out a framework for policymaking, NPR reported. Campaign officials wrote in a memo that the platform should reflect Trump’s vision for the country rather than creating lines of attack for Democratic opponents.

The biggest question is how the platform will address abortion, an issue that is considered a major one along with immigration and the handling of the U.S. southern border.

Trump has been clear about his efforts to keep illegal immigrants from entering the country. On abortion, Trump has said that the issue should be handled at the state level and that he does not favor a national ban.

Issues to watch at this year’s DNC

The biggest issue to watch remains Biden’s status as the Democratic nominee. Should Biden remain in the race, the question becomes whether the party can garner enough support among delegates to confirm Biden.

What are Donald Trump’s stances on major issues to voters?

Biden’s movements are being closely monitored between now and the convention. While the president has remained defiant against calls for him to step aside, if concerns remain and more Democrats push for a new nominee to emerge from the DNC, Chicago could be looked at as a contested or brokered convention in which delegates would begin voting until a candidate has enough delegate backing to be confirmed as the party’s choice for the November ballot.

In addition to Biden’s status as the nominee, immigration could also take center stage in Chicago. Chicago, in addition to Denver and New York, has seen countless buses of migrants arrive from Texas since 2022, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is expected to resume sending buses as a way of highlighting the migrant crisis by Democrats.