Over the course of the conventions delegates will attend speeches, meet with party officials, discuss party issues and hobnob with elected leaders. The convention schedule is packed with parties and fundraisers, some hosted by corporate giants and big-name politicians.
Many of the delegates to both conventions will arrive a few days early to plunge into the process. Much of the early work revolves around committees that determine each party’s platform and the rules for the four-day event, as well as the guidelines for the 2020 nominating process.
Typically, little “political” activity actually happens at political conventions, which have become carefully scripted and televised pep rallies showcasing rising stars and elder statesmen. Both are expected to feature their party’s running mate on one night and culminate with a blockbuster speech by the party’s presidential nominee.
The main purpose of the event, though, comes when delegates formally nominate their party’s candidate. Each delegate must cast a vote in favor of one candidate, and if no one is able to clinch the nomination, rounds of voting continue until someone does.
There’s little drama on the Democratic side now that Vermont U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders will back Hillary Clinton — although some of his most ardent supporters are still wary of the former secretary of state.
The critics of presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, however, promise a pitched battle over the course of the convention. Trump has locked up the 1,237 delegates he needs to clinch the nomination, but the Never Trump movement is pushing for ways to free delegates so they can back one of his rivals.