Date of Award

August 2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Political Science

First Advisor

Thomas Holbrook

Committee Members

Kathleen Dolan, Sara Benesh, David Armstrong, John Bohte


Campaign, Candidate, Convention, Information, President, Speech


Presidential nominating conventions sometimes trigger shifts in aggregate levels of candidate support large enough to affect election outcomes. While we are able to predict the probable impact of conventions with some degree of accuracy, we do not yet fully understand how these large-scale campaign events produce the changes we observe. Current scholarship on the impact of conventions on opinion is almost exclusively limited to aggregate-level analysis. In this study, I focus on individual-level analysis to demonstrate how self-exposure to different sources of information during conventions can produce overlapping yet distinct impacts on candidate support that are not always observable at the aggregate level. Along the way, I discuss the state of current scholarship and present theoretical justifications for the separate consideration of different types of information sources during conventions. I explore the determinants of self-exposure to nominee acceptance speeches, and demonstrate how those speeches exercise a persuasive effect that favors convening candidates. I also examine the influence of partisan bias triggered by an information environment flooded with political messaging. Finally, I consider the joint influence of pairs of conventions within a given cycle, and I examine the impact of conventions on political knowledge in general and the gap in political knowledge that runs along socioeconomic lines specifically.