Political Scientists Find a Laboratory at Conventions

For Political Scientists, Party Conventions Offer a Sprawling Lab in Face-to-Face Politics 1

Ted Richardson for The Chronicle

Max Harris (right), a senior at Kennesaw State U., interviewed demonstrators outside the Democratic National Convention for a field-research project on sociopolitical activism.

Modern political conventions, it has been said, effectively amount to days-long infomercials for the parties' candidates.

This year was no exception, aside from Clint Eastwood's comedic ramblings and some last-minute discord among Democrats over a platform provision about Israel.

But in spite of the scripted grandstanding and political pageantry, the dozens of political-science students and professors who descended on Tampa, Fla., for the Republican National Convention and