LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7) Since 1908, students at Washington and Lee University have gathered every four years to simulate a presidential nomination convention. Over the last 100 years, the W&L student body has created one of the most ambitious non-partisan political research projects in the country. And the accuracy of this Mock Convention to predict the nominee is unparalleled.
Thursday, students were busy setting the stage inside the campus tennis center. WDBJ7 spoke to Emily Hershgordon, the press secretary for the mock convention.
"I think we're feeling super excited," she said.
She added many of the student leaders have been preparing for this event for four years with one major goal in mind.
"To accurately predict who the party out of power will select to be their nominee for president of the United States," she said. "Our political team has been doing a phenomenal job with the research the past several years."
That research has looked at three key areas to help make the prediction.
"The first is a national approach where they look at national trends, those broader concepts, looking across the country from a 30,000-foot view," Hershgordon explained. "The second being a local approach where we have on-the-ground contacts in all 57 delegations. And the third of which is new this cycle. We have a meta-data approach where we bring data to the table and make sure we're substantiating our research and our conversations with constituents with that polling data."
All that information and prep work is one of the reasons their prediction is the most accurate in the country.
"We've been around since 1908, only having gotten it wrong twice since 1948. And we were one of the first to predict that Donald Trump would be the Republican nominee back in February 2016, before Super Tuesday," she said proudly.
Thursday night kicked off the politics and media panel. Friday and Saturday have a full list of renowned speakers all leading up to the prediction announcement Saturday night.
However, there's more to the event than just the prediction itself and it's been a learning experience in every facet.
"We've been working to really do what we call, 'do things right,'" she said. "So we have a big sustainability initiative, we've done lots of different events throughout the past year, so really this is a culmination of a ton of hard work and we're really confident in our student leaders."
Hershgordon said this is an exciting event for everyone, whether you're interested in politics or not.
"We can demonstrate the fact that anyone can really be involved. We have a 95% student participation on our campus so it's not just politics majors, it's not just people who want to go into politics. I think it's important that we show it's important to be involved in politics. This affects all of our lives and it's really exciting that we'll be able to spread that message and joy."
Schedule of Events:
• Mock Convention Parade - Friday at 9 a.m. on Main St. in Lexington.
• Session 1 - Friday at 1:30 p.m.
Symone Sanders, Vice President Biden's Senior Adviser
Joe Donnelly, former US Senator and Representative
• Session 2 - Friday at 6 p.m.
Nadine Strossen, first female president of the American Civil Liberties Union
Patti Solis-Doyle, former Senior Adviser to President Obama
• Session 3 - Saturday at 10 a.m.
Donna Brazile, former Chair of the DNC
Cameron Kasky, co-founder of March for Our Lives
Trevor Noah, political comedian and host of The Daily Show on Comedy Central
• Session 4 - Saturday at 3 p.m.
Andrew Gilum, 2018 Democratic nominee for Governor of Florida
All events are sold out, but can be viewed on the livestream from Washington and Lee University's Mock Convention.
Copyright 2020 WDBJ7. All rights reserved.