Lessons From the Last Convention
What the Public's Response to the 2000 Republican Convention Suggests about the 2000 Democratic Convention and Conventions Beyond
by Thomas E. Patterson
Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy
John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
Presented August 13, 2000
Los Angeles, CA
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The television audience for the Republican National Convention reached a new low in 2000, as did the amount of over-the-air television convention coverage. Internet coverage was a different story entirely. Thirty-five Internet providers offered nearly continuous coverage directly from the Philadelphia convention site, while hundreds of other web sites provided convention information and news.
Does the Internet represent a brighter future for the party convention? Or does the decline in the television coverage and audience foreshadow an increasingly bleak future? We believe that the second prospect is the more likely.
Since early November, the Vanishing Voter Project has tracked public involvement in the 2000 presidential campaign through weekly national polls of approximately 1,000 adults each. During the GOP convention, our survey focused on the public's response to television and Internet coverage of it. The results suggest that future party conventions, including the Democratic convention this coming week in Los Angeles, will struggle to attract and hold an audience.
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