This year’s political conventions – starting with the Democrats in Milwaukee – will be unlike any we’ve seen previously, and more challenging for the parties to create any sort of traction, according to Virginia Tech political expert Karen Hult. 

“What the Democrats have to do is break through the cacophony and try to get people’s attention on the Democratic candidate, the platform and the goals and objectives,” Hult told USA Today. “That’s what’s so hard about it right now.”

With the White House scheduling counter-campaign events for President Trump this week, the ability to cut through the clutter becomes more difficult. 

“The Democrats are going to have to be pretty agile here,” Hult said. “I’m going to be looking at what is going on outside the convention. What is the administration doing? What is Kanye West up to? What about the Post Office problems? What else is going on that isn’t directly related to the convention, that Democrats can capitalize on and Republicans will try to capitalize on as well?”

Hult, a professor of political science in Virginia Tech’s College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences says suspense over the presidential nominee has been relatively rare leading into party conventions since at least the 1950s.

“This year, since most estimates put the percentage of undecided voters at less than 5 percent nationally, the conventions -- or their substitutes -- likely will mostly be about reinforcing and mobilizing or demobilizing voters. At least in the past, so-called convention ‘bounces’ in support for a candidate have both varied in magnitude and been short-lasting.”

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