Bowling Green, KY – The Democratic and Republican conventions mark the real beginning of the general election race for president, according to Western Kentucky University Political Science Professor Dr. Scott Lasley.
"It signals a start to the general election," Lasley said.
"For a lot of people, this is their signal to start clueing in," he added.
After the lull of the summer months, when many voters are away on vacation and not paying attention to the candidates' campaigns, the conventions mark the beginning of the "horse race" that leads to November, Lasley said.
Senators Barack Obama and John McCain have been the presumptive party nominees for some time. However, the convention is still an important turning point in the race, according to Lasley.
"Conventions still serve quite a few purposes. One is that technically that is where the nomination takes place," Lasley said.,br>
"Part of it is to reward party faithful. It's one of the largest and most exciting pep rallies we hold in this nation every four years," he added.
Obama and McCain will likely announce their vice presidential picks shortly before their party conventions, Lasley said. The conventions take place August 25-28, and September 1-4, respectively.
The short list for Obama likely includes Indiana Senator Evan Bayh, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, and Delaware Senator Joe Biden, according to Lasley.
McCain's potential nominees include former Massachusetts Governor and presidential candidate Mitt Romney, Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, Florida Governor Charlie Crist, and former U.S. Representative for Ohio Rob Portman, Lasley said.
The conventions provide the parties a chance to rally around their platform and dominate media coverage of politics for a few days, Lasley said.
"This is [their] chance to tell Americans what [their] agenda is," he said.