Ask Fox: What's the point of the conventions anyway?

Utah delegate Phil Wright speaks as some delegates call for a roll call vote on the adoption of the rules during the opening day of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Monday, July 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

At this point in the political cycle, one could correctly wonder: 'why do we need a convention if we know who the party's nominee will be?'

It's a great question - Trump has the delegate count he needs, as does Hillary Clinton - and there's no discernible competition as all the other candidates have dropped out.

The conventions are really just week-long commercials, right?

Short answer: the conventions are necessary to properly nominate a candidate.

Long answer: you could nominate a candidate without a week-long convention.

Even if you bucked the trend of the pomp and circumstance of the four-day love fest for one party, look at this election cycle: weird stuff has happened.

Even the first day of the Republican National Convention this year in Cleveland shows that some delegates might throw you a curve-ball and try to do something out of the ordinary.

But the political faithful will remind you as well: conventions serve as a way to push a parties message as we head into the major campaigning efforts toward November, and serve as a party pep rally.

Conventions offer candidates opportunity to shape their images to voters who hadn't really tuned in before. That will be a tough task this year. A July Associated Press-GfK poll found more than 6 out of 10 voters held an unfavorable view of Trump; Clinton did poorly on that front as well, with a 57 percent unfavorable rating.

For Trump, Cleveland is about making himself more "likable," according to top Republican advisers. A prime target: women, who make up more than half the electorate. For Clinton, the hurdle is "trust." Democrats say the way to overcome persuadable voters' skepticism is to tell them about what she's accomplished in her public roles, convincing them she's best for the job, even if they may not completely trust her.

Parties traditionally strive to project an image of unity at their conventions. The Democratic Party has rallied behind Clinton, with Sanders and President Barack Obama among those speaking at the convention. Clinton will use surrogates to tell her story until she appears on her convention's final night to accept the nomination.

The Republican Party, meanwhile, is fractured, as was evident in the rules fight Monday. Yet Trump doesn't seem to care about party fissures. He's the outsider selling himself to voters. His party label is secondary. That would seem to give the united Democrats an advantage over the chaotic Republicans. But maybe not. Trump's primary product is his personal brand. Because of Trump, Republican primary debates set ratings records. Republican primary turnout set records. His name almost guarantees a large audience for his acceptance speech Thursday.

Trump enhanced his fame as a reality TV star, succeeding in a genre in which audiences tune in to see the unpredictable. Democrats could have a hard time attracting as many viewers — and voters — to their carefully scripted show.

Bill Barrow contributed to this report.

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