What's the purpose of the RNC in Milwaukee, DNC in Chicago?

The Republican National Convention in Milwaukee and Democratic National Convention in Chicago will command political attention as the 2024 race for president intensifies in advance of the election.

By Aditi Debnath | Here & Now

July 3, 2024

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Two major Midwest cities are gearing up to host national political conventions, the Republican National Convention in Milwaukee and the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Republicans will meet in mid-July and Democrats will meet in late August. The main purpose of these conventions: officially selecting presidential nominees.

Delegates from each state attend the event on behalf of the Democratic or Republican voters in their state. Delegates can be party officials that represent the state like Republican Party of Wisconsin Chair Brian Schimming or Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Ben Wikler. They can also be district delegates that represent voters in one of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts.

There will be almost 2,500 delegates visiting Milwaukee, 41 of whom are from Wisconsin. The DNC is larger, and Wisconsin will send 95 out of 4,600 delegates.

The conventions are not just a place for presidential nominees to win over voters watching at home. Up-and-coming political figures give speeches throughout the week which can put them on the map for future partisan elections.

Conventions are also a place for parties to decide on their political platform moving forward. Delegates and party members determine a party’s platform by making policy recommendations, which often align with a presidential nominee’s campaign proposals. This aspect of the convention is crucial in giving party members space to disagree and resolve political conflict within the party.

In the 2020 presidential election, the Republican Party made no changes to its platform as then President Donald Trump was running as an incumbent. The Democrats did update their platform that year, which included recommendations made by delegates that had voted for U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, like investing in climate change prevention and attempting to relieve student debt. The unique partnership between President Joe Biden and Sanders helped Biden win Sanders’ supporters in the 2020 general election, including young voters. In 2024, though, neither party’s presumed nominee had a high-profile opponent in the primaries.

Viewers can watch the RNC and DNC live at home as the events are closed off to the public. Both conventions will last for four days. The RNC begins July 15 and the DNC begins August 19.

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