© 2024 WFAE

Mailing Address:
8801 J.M. Keynes Dr. Ste. 91
Charlotte NC 28262
Tax ID: 56-1803808
90.7 Charlotte 93.7 Southern Pines 90.3 Hickory 106.1 Laurinburg
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
The Party Line is dedicated to examining regional issues and policies through the figures who give shape to them. These are critical, complex, and even downright confusing times we live in. There’s a lot to navigate nationally and in the Carolinas; whether it’s elections, debates on gay marriage, public school closings, or tax incentives for economic development. The Party Line’s goal is to offer a provocative, intelligent look at the issues and players behind the action; a view that ultimately offers the necessary insight for Carolina voters to hold public servants more accountable.

Convention Faithful Now Try To Sway The Skeptics

Modern national conventions are often described as being nothing more than “infomercials” for the two major campaigns and political parties.

But for those delegates attending the conventions, it is a chance to show the public who the members of the parties are and what each party stands for.

First, some background on how the delegates got to each party’s convention.  Both parties select their convention attendees in a series of elections, usually beginning at the local level and working their way up to the state level.

For example, the North Carolina Democratic Party has a specific set of guidelines for delegate selection. It includes a formula for each congressional district’s allocation of delegates based on past election results at the presidential and gubernatorial level (see herefor the memo’s specifics).

Ultimately, 185 NorthCarolinianswill represent the state at the DNC as delegates, pages, and committee members.  In Tampa, 55 North Caroliniansare serving as GOP delegates. 

And the delegates coming to Charlotte’s DNC, along with their Republican counterparts, may be more reflective of their party’s composition than of the general electorate as a whole.

For many of the modern political conventions, the New York Times and CBS has surveyed delegates to the Republicanand Democraticconventions.  From the 2008 responses, we see two parties typically appearing outside of the electorate (as measured by the 2008 presidential national exit poll).

For example, the national electorate had a plurality of voters who identified as “moderate.” But conservatives dominated the 2008 Republican convention, while the Democratic convention had double the percentage of liberals compared to the electorate at-large.

When ideology is broken down by “very” or “somewhat” among the delegates, a plurality of GOP delegates identified as “very conservative.”

This ideological divide is best represented in the question regarding government involvement in solving national problems. 

In 2008, half of general electorate said that the government should do more to solve national problems. Among Democratic delegates, that number was 83%, while 91% of GOP convention delegates said government was doo too many things.

We also see a religious divide among Democratic and Republican delegates in 2008 when it comes to worship attendance.

We do find one area of agreement between Democrats and Republicans. Both believe that the political conventions are still needed in our political system.

The conventions are a chance to be among like-minded individuals from across the nation to hear the party sermons. At times, it may seem like both parties are preaching to the choir. 

The key for both parties, however, is to make sure to convert the very few skeptics left in the general electorate.

Dr. Michael Bitzer is an associate professor of politics and history at Catawba College, where he also serves as the 2011-2012 Swink Professor for Excellence in Classroom Teaching and the chair of the department of history & politics. A native South Carolinian, he holds graduate degrees in both history and political science from Clemson University and The University of Georgiaââ