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Tickets Are Set, On With the Show!

Impact of the V.P. selections and national conventions on the presidential race

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Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton

The tickets are set and now it’s a waiting game to see who will become our next president and vice president on Nov. 8. But between now and then, we can expect three more months of political advertising, multiple debates, yards littered with campaign signs and, of course, the last of the party conventions this week.

Only two days before the start of last week’s Republican National Convention (RNC), Donald Trump selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his running mate. The 57-year-old previously served in the U.S. Congress for 12 years and is a supporter of the Tea Party movement.

Long-time political observer Seth Masket, professor and chair of DU’s Department of Political Science, says he thinks Pence brings experience to the Republican ticket. “Trump has developed a reputation of being volatile and emotional, and he obviously has no experience in government,” he says. “Pence is on the ticket to balance those concerns, as he is generally experienced in both state and federal service and has a stable demeanor.”

Vice presidential nominees typically don’t help or hurt very much. Prof. Seth Masket, Department of Political Science

With the selection of Pence and the RNC now history, opinion polls are offering insight into the public’s response. According to a CNN poll released on July 25, Donald Trump has bounced ahead of Hillary Clinton in a head-to-head matchup, 48 to 45 percent. It’s not often that candidates receive a significant postconvention bounce. “We’re only beginning to see the effects of the RNC in public opinion polls,” Masket says. “There will likely be a modest boost for the Trump campaign, but that probably won’t last more than a week or so.”

Clinton’s selection of Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine as her running mate could have a significant impact come November. “Vice presidential nominees typically don’t help or hurt very much,” Masket says. “But Kaine has a history of winning in an important swing state and lends the ticket some general moderate credibility.” Before becoming a senator in 2012, Kaine served as Virginia’s governor and also as chair of the Democratic National Committee.

This week Democrats get their turn to convince voters that Clinton is the best choice for president during the Democratic National Convention (DNC). The convention offers the usual big-name speakers: First Lady Michelle Obama, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, former President Bill Clinton and President Barack Obama. Thursday night’s program includes DU alumna Crisanta Duran (BA ’02), who serves as majority leader of the Colorado House of Representatives.

Will Clinton see the same kind of boost in the polls as Trump has? Masket believes she will. “Democrats will likely receive a small bump in the polls next week, once the convention is over.”