Mock Con kicks off spring

Caitlin Kaloostian

Every four years since 1908, Washington and Lee students gather to create one of the most non-partisan student political research projects in the country—Mock Convention, or Mock Con for short.

“Mock Con is a purely student-run endeavor,” Professor William Connelly, a W&L politics professor said. He also serves as a faculty advisor to Mock con since 1988 and was the mediator of Thursday’s Presidential Issues Panel.

Tanner Waggoner, ‘16, is the Financial chair of Mock Con.

“I budget each event, help the fundraising team raise $400,000 in private contributions, and oversee disbursement of funds throughout the organization,” Waggoner said.

The goal of Mock Con is to predict who will be the presidential nomination for the political party not already holding the presidential office. The main focus of this Mock Con will be on the Republican Party since the current president is a Democrat.

With 56 state and territorial delegations, Mock Con draws on the latest polling data and the insight of officials and analysts on the ground to predict the exact distribution of delegates from each state.

After months of preparation, these delegations gather for a convention conducted according to real party procedures and featuring some of the most engaging political voices from around the country.

Mock Con has correctly picked the eventual nominee of the party out of power 19 of the past 25 presidential elections.

This Thursday’s panel brought in three speakers who all had experience with politics in Washington.

Jay Nordlinger is a senior editor of National Review and a book fellow of the National Review Institute. In his works, Nordlinger writes about a variety of subjects, including politics, foreign affairs and the arts. He is the music critic of The New Criterion. For National Review Online, he writes a column called “Impromptus.”

Carl Cannon is the Washington editor of RealClearPolitics and the former executive editor of PoliticsDaily. He has covered every presidential campaign and major political convention since 1984 and has received the two most prestigious awards for White House coverage – the prestigious Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting of the Presidency and the Aldo Beckman award for “excellence in presidential news coverage.”

James E. Tyrrell III is an Associate in Clark Hill’s Political Law practice group, where he provides political law compliance advice to political and corporate clients. Jim counsels candidates, PACs, Super PACs, state and national party committees, corporations and trade associations on federal and state campaign finance, lobbying disclosure, pay to play and government ethics laws.

During the panel, the speakers discussed factors that could potentially make or break a presidential candidate. Some of these included individual character, amount of experience in a federal governing position, amount of money for campaigning and institution backing.

“I believe that sometimes an individual’s sincerity of beliefs as well as their ability to evoke the trust of their constituents is what determines the vote. It’s all about who the constituents like and can trust,” Nordlinger said.

The speakers also discussed the influence of campaign funding on the longevity of the race to become the party nominee. They said that 40 years ago presidential candidates would run against members of their own party until June or July, but now as campaigning has gotten increasingly more expensive donors will start to drop out faster, and there will be a party nominee as early as March.

They also said that as the race continues it is important to pay attention to any gaffes or small differences between candidates, as those will become increasingly more important.

The panelists were hestitant to name their prediction for the nominee, but said that they wouldn’t be surprisded if the republican condenders for the presidency number in the double digits.

The next Mock Con event will be in November of 2015, with the Presidential Gala, a formal dance held to celebrate the upcoming convention.

As the culmination of the political research endeavor, Convention Weekend features three simulated convention sessions featuring a host of speakers, the delegates parade and the reveal of the long-awaited prediction.

The Convention will take place on February 11-13 in 2016.