We wait anxiously for the release of fundraising records, and watch endless press conferences. We make calls to folks in Ames and Anchorage, Concord and Coral Gables, and every place in between. Tuesday is always the most important day of our week. Our work is part of one of the most ambitious political research projects in the country: The Washington and Lee University Mock Convention. Our goal: to accurately predict who the party out of power in the White House will nominate to run for President of the United States. Our efforts culminate in a simulated presidential nominating convention featuring some of the most dynamic and influential speakers in politics today. We've been in business since Taft was in the White House, and our record of accuracy is unparalleled: in the last sixteen election cycles, we've accurately predicted the nominee fourteen times. As the Republicans gear up for a dramatic 2016 campaign, we're preparing for what is sure to be one the most exciting Convention Cycles in recent memory. Join us as, for the twenty-sixth time, we prepare to celebrate the all-American drama of our democratic process.
Since our founding in 1908, Mock Convention has been driven by the hard work and creativity of Washington and Lee students. The centerpiece of our efforts is a two year, hands-on political research project. Students representing each of the 56 states and territories that send delegates to the national convention are responsible for predicting the distribution of delegates from the areas they represent. Through the most accurate available polling data and contacts with local reporters, officeholders, and party officials, they develop an understanding of how local conditions can shape national outcomes. Student leaders on the Executive and Steering Committees are responsible for coordinating all Mock Convention activity, from event planning and media outreach to an intensive budgeting and fundraising effort. By Convention Weekend, more than 95% of Washington and Lee students will have had some role in making Mock Convention a success.
From social gatherings and policy forums to the events of Convention Weekend, a series of unique political experiences offer members of the Washington and Lee community, the public, and the media to share in our process and hear from some of the most dynamic voices in politics. Past Spring Kickoff and Convention speakers have included former and future Presidents Harry S. Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. In 2012, students heard from Republican Strategist Karl Rove, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour, Congressman Eric Cantor, former presidential candidate, Ambassador to China, and Utah Governor John Huntsman, among many others. In settings that capture the excitement and drama of election season, we offer the chance to experience the race for the White House in an engaging and impactful way, through direct interaction with officeholders, speeches, debates, exhibits, and the convention proceedings themselves.
At a time when many feel frustrated and disconnected from the political process, Mock Convention offers an opportunity to discover and understand the realities of representative democracy, not only for those who participate directly in research, but also for students and the public, who have the opportunity to experience this enduring tradition throughout the Convention Cycle. With that understanding, we aim to inspire lifetimes of committed engagement in electoral politics. "A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government," wrote George Washington in his eighth message to Congress, "In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?" It is in the spirit of our first president and namesake's assertions that we gather every four years with the education he describes as our own primary object.
History and tradition are the foundation of the Mock Convention experience. Explore the photographs below to discover the history of this one-of-a-kind political undertaking.
This fall, Regional and State Chairs will be hired along with other positions integral to Mock Convention's research project. New hires will observe the Midterm Elections and hone their predictive skills.
The official start of convention festivities , Spring Kickoff welcomes a featured speaker to campus to build excitement, and includes student and faculty panels, the Delegates fair, and a series of celebrations.
Tapping into the glamor of the presidency, our Presidential Gala captures the spirit of a Washington gathering, and builds excitement for the approaching convention as research intensifies.
Convention Weekend is the centerpiece of Mock Convention: 4 sessions that adhere closely to GOP procedures, featuring more than 15 speakers and culminating in the reveal of the long awaited prediction.