Rewiring Politics: Presidential Nominating Conventions in the Media Age

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A century ago, national political parties' nominating conventions for U.S. presidential candidates often resembled wide-open brawls, filled with front-stage conflicts and back-room deals. Today, leagues of advisors precisely plan and carefully script these events even though their outcomes are largely preordained. Rewiring Politics offers the first in-depth exploration of the profound changes in the nominating process to focus on the role of the media. Fourteen luminaries from the worlds of media and politics examine how the technology of "coverage" has transformed conventions over time. As the contributors demonstrate, the story of the evolution of the nominating process cannot be told without the concomitant story of the revolution in mass media.

The impact of the media on political conventions has received surprisingly little scholarly attention. Yet few aspects of the American political process have faced such radical alterations in such a short period of time. From the first live television broadcast from a national convention on June 21, 1948, during the Republican convention in Philadelphia, through the advent of cable networks and the Internet, both the presentation and the content of the nominating process has been transformed. Today, because the party's nominee is selected before the event, candidates use their conventions-and convention coverage-as a form of advertising. They design mega-media events to electrify the party faithful and to woo undecided voters by dazzling them.

Without a doubt, the contributors conclude, conventions still matter, though their role has changed over the past decades. Rewiring Politics helps readers assess the evolution of conventions in contemporary politics and addresses the implications of these changes on our parties, politics, and society.

LSU Press

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807132067
  • Publisher: Louisiana State University Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2007
  • Series: politics@media Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.82 (d)

Meet the Author

Costas Panagopoulos is a postdoctoral fellow at the Institution for Social and Policy Studies at Yale University. He is also a visiting assistant professor of political science and the director of the graduate program in elections and campaign management at Fordham University. He previously served as an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow (2004--2005) in the office of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

LSU Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Presidential Nominating Conventions in the Media Age   Costas Panagopoulos     1
Follow the Bouncing Ball: Assessing Convention Bumps, 1964-2004   Costas Panagopoulos     16
Conventions and Campaign Dynamics   Michael G. Hagen   Richard Johnston     29
Party Profiles: National Convention Delegates   John C. Green   John S. Jackson     53
The Utility of Party Conventions in an Era of Low Visibility and Campaign Finance Reform   J. Mark Wrighton     76
Nominating Conventions, Campaign Events, and Political Information   Costas Panagopoulos     92
Conventions for the Unconventional: Minor Party Conventions, 1992-2004   John C. Berg     98
Lights, Camera, Chaos? The Evolution of Convention "Crises"   R. Sam Garrett     113
Rewiring the Conventions (Again): The Internet and Innovation in Politics and Media   Michael Cornfield     133
Losing Control? The Rise of Cable News and Its Effect on Party Convention Coverage   Jonathan S. Morris   Peter L. Francia     147
Mass Media and the Democratization of Presidential Nominating Conventions   Terri Susan Fine     165
The New Role of the Conventions as Political Rituals   Gerald M. Pomper     189
Contributors     209
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