Mock Con 2020’s Delegates’ Fair numbers exceed expectations

About 90 percent of the student body signed up to participate in next year’s Mock Convention


Amelia Lancaster

This year’s Delegates’ Fair surpassed all expectations with projections saying well over 1,500 students will be participating in one of Washington and Lee’s most iconic traditions: Mock Convention.  

Around 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 4, campus was buzzing with energy and excitement as the Mock Convention Delegates’ Fair was in full swing. 

State delegations went all out to recruit students for Mock Con 2020. Bluetooth speakers blasted Lil Nas X’s smash hit “Old Town Road,” and the delegations were giving out some of their state’s signature food. Some delegation members even dressed up to promote their state’s table.

Mock Con only comes once every four years. The student body is able to come together to participate in politics, engage in the wider community and have fun while doing it. 

Every cycle, Mock Con draws upwards of 95 percent of the student body to participate in a nationally recognized convention. 

The goal is to predict the presidential nominee of the party out of power. The Delegates’ Fair is the main way for students to get involved, by signing up to be on one of 57 state delegations. 

Despite the over 90 degree heat, more than 1,000 students lined up around the various delegation tables. Once the students had signed up for their favorite state, they went to a separate payment center. The cost to join a delegation is $80 and includes tickets to the convention and a state t-shirt. 

Potential delegates line up outside the Georgia delegation – the only state that brought a truck. Photo by Amelia Lancaster, ’22

John Harashinski, ‘20, the political chair of Mock Con, was surprised by the amount of activity on Canaan Green during the fair.

 “Fifteen minutes in and I’m like, ‘Oh my god, this is incredible!’” Harashinski said.  

Besides making the overall prediction, the political team also selects speakers and comes up with a comprehensive platform to present at the convention. Mock Con is known for being realistic and accurate, and the political committee is trying to keep it that way. But there are other equally important factors to consider when facilitating such an event. 

Each state was allotted a certain number of delegates, in proportion to the student body, to accurately reflect the distribution of the current Democratic National Convention. However, so many students were signing up during the Delegates’ Fair that many states were running out of space. 

It was in response to this surplus of students that Mock Con’s Executive Committee made the decision to remove all caps on state delegations, Harashinski said. 

“The thing that really concerned a lot of us was that we don’t want to turn somebody away just because we want to be representative,” Harashinski said.

Whitley Drinkard, ’20, and Emma Rabuse, ’20, advertise the North Dakota delegation. Photo by Amelia Lancaster, ’22

Though removing caps risks upsetting the balance in delegates’ distribution — Mock Con 2016 had to account for 80 people on Guam’s delegation while California only had 40 — Harashinski is confident that there is plenty of room for all who want to participate. “The more the merrier,” he said.

Students could also satisfy their hunger while browsing delegations. Oklahoma boasted a spread of chili, cornbread, fruit and candy.  Kentucky’s table had — what else? — Kentucky Fried Chicken. And if students swung by Arizona’s delegation, they could pick up a refreshing can of AriZona Iced Tea. 

Dominique Broomfield, ‘22, said that she “wasn’t even planning on joining a delegation,” but couldn’t resist the excitement of the fair. Many students simply knew they wanted to participate in Mock Con, but didn’t have a preference on delegations. Anjeli Hoskins, ‘22, said that she chose Wyoming because “they had fun hats.” 

All the students who signed up, no matter which delegation they chose in the end, helped make the Delegates’ Fair a great success. 

General Secretary Layne Smith, ‘20, said that this year’s goal is to “unite to predict,” and she added that she is focused on bringing all different backgrounds and perspectives to the Mock Con platform. 

She said she’s encouraged by the amount of student participation so far, calling the Delegates’ Fair a “gratifying and really proud experience.” 

Idaho and its potatoes. Photo by Amelia Lancaster, ’22

Mock Con has been in the works since the first three executives were hired during their freshman year, so the success of the Delegates’ Fair represents the success of years of hard work. 

Not only does Mock Con require heavy amounts of research and data, it also needs  acute management and organization in order to be a success. 

This is where Kylie Piotte, ’21, and the Operations Department step in. As director of operations, Piotte manages all the logistics for Mock Con. This year the convention will be held in the Duchossois Tennis Center since the Doremus-Warner Athletics center is still under renovation. 

According to Piotte, the capacity constraints of the tennis center are still unknown, but it will be a smaller space than usual. 

Though this poses some concern due to the number of students participating in Mock Con, she said that the main goal is to make sure events are accessible and enjoyable no matter what. 

“This is one of those traditions that—you have to get it right, more than just the prediction itself, you have to get everything right,” Piotte said.