CNN reports that a “growing list of Democrats in competitive districts and states will not attend this year’s Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.” This strikes me as a manufactured controversy.
First, it is probably likely that a number of Republicans in competitive districts and states will skip the GOP National Convention in Tampa, Florida as well.
There are many good reasons for elected officials to attend their conventions: networking, fundraising, platform development, not to mention the positive energy that comes from spending a week with your party’s base.
However, for Democrats and Republicans in competitive districts, spending several days away from the district in the last two months of the campaign is not a wise move.
Voters remember and appreciate personal appearances and one-one-one time with their elected officials and the challengers who believe they can replace incumbents. Campaigning is exhaustive work. As someone who has worked and volunteered on at least a dozen campaigns, it is truly impressive when you see a congressional candidates’ schedule. A typical day looks like this:
7:30 am. Rotary Club breakfast
8:30 – 9:30 am: Fundraising calls
9:30-11:30 am. Door-to-door vote canvassing
11:30 am – 12:30 pm: Lunch at strategically located restaurant
12:30 – 1:30 pm: Fundraising calls
1:30 – 3:30 pm: Door-to-door fundraising calls
3:30 – 5:30 pm: Visit to fire department/police station/park for a “relaxed” visit with local institutions.
5:30 – 6:30 pm.: Attendance at generic community event
6:30 – 7:30 pm: Rally your phone bank volunteers and also make phone calls
7:30 – 9:00 pm: Combination of the above
9:00 pm: Maybe some family time
This schedule is the norm for candidates that want to win. Any days off are reserved for weddings, funerals and bar mitzvahs, but attendance at even these usually brings on pangs of guiltbecause successful candidates know that the opposition is working just as hard as them to get elected.
This is the life for candidates in competitive districts and states. Given this, does it make sense to attend a convention where you are a bit player? The Democratic National Convention and the Republican Convention are both abut the presidential nominees, not your average congressperson.
CNN is manufacturing a controversy where none exists.