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The Super Bowl of American politics: the Democratic and Republican presidential nominating conventions

The Republican and Democratic presidential nominating conventions are the Super Bowl of American politics, and there is no venue like them to reinvigorate existing relationships, to forge new ones, and to bring attention to your issues and ideas.

These conventions are one-of-a-kind opportunities for corporations, trade associations, and non-profit group, and even foreign representatives and businesses, to introduce themselves and their issues to decision-makers from all levels of government from across the nation, all in one place at the same time.

The Republican Convention will be Cleveland, Ohio, from July 18 to 21, 2016. The Democrats have picked Philadelphia, PA, the very next week, from July 25 to 28. Each convention will attract 45-50,000 visitors – including approximately 6,000 Delegates alternates, 5,000 volunteers, and 15,000 media representatives.

Each city will raise $70 million in private funding to produce the convention. And each convention will generate up to $200 million in economic activity.  They are huge.

They’re also unique and dramatic. Each of the two major parties gathers to nominate their standard bearer; one of whom will become President.  Each state sends representatives, known as delegates, selected at local caucuses, or via conventions, or in primary elections.  It’s an interesting and complicated process, and one result is that top business and political leaders from every state come together.   

Those attending include party leaders, local elected officials, Members of the House and Senate, business and civic leaders – decision-makers at every level from every state. These conventions are the only gathering of the most influential local, state, and federal community, business, and political leaders in the nation, and it occurs once every four years.  

Some may say it’s unseemly for businesses and private interests to attend such a ‘political’ event, but the fact is America is the home of a spirited democracy, our representatives are expected to engage with the people whose decisions they affect, and the ethics and compliance rules are both strict and transparent.  

National conventions are where one can effectively present ideas and build important relationships. As a lobbyist, political organizer, and corporate representative, I wouldn’t miss one – and in fact have attended every one since 1996. They are wonderful opportunities that only happen once every four years; but they can pay political dividends for years to come.

As an organization, getting involved in the conventions requires strategic and advance planning. Activities to consider might include interaction with key policy makers and other VIPs, the production or sponsorship of hospitality or policy oriented events, or involvement in educational forums.  Whatever type of involvement an organization may consider, working out all of the logistics well ahead of the event is absolutely critical.  

Regardless of how big or small, how sophisticated or how skilled your organization is, our political capabilities, convention experience, and local knowledge could help you make the conventions a successful investment for your overall public affairs program.


Darrell Henry

Darrell Henry is a partner in Gavel Resources, a member of the Interel Washington Group, and co-founder of Conventions 2016. Henry has been involved in each U.S. national political convention since 1996. www.gavelresources.com

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