W&L’s 2024 Mock Convention Predicts Donald Trump Will Win Republican Nomination A student-run academic exercise, Mock Con remains the most accurate political mock convention in the country.
Washington and Lee University 28th’s Mock Convention, a student-led academic exercise that occurs every four years, culminated on Saturday, Feb. 10, in the prediction that former President Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination for president at the 2024 Republican National Convention held July 15-18 in Milwaukee. In addition, students predicted that U.S. Rep. Elise Stefanik from New York will win the vice-presidential nomination.
When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis exited the Republican presidential nomination race just weeks before Mock Con, W&L students responded by adding a new predictive element for vice president to this year’s event. During roll call of delegates from 57 states and territories, Trump received 2,353 votes out of a possible 2,429 to win the nomination. He accepted the nomination via a pre-recorded video played on the large screens behind the convention stage at W&L’s Duchossois Tennis Center.
Mock Con, which attempts to create a realistic presidential nominating convention for the party out of power, is one of the university’s longest-running traditions, beginning in 1908 with the prediction of William Jennings Bryan as the Democratic presidential nominee. In its 116-year history, W&L’s Mock Convention boasts a 74% accuracy rate, with accurate Republication Party predictions every year since 1948. This year, students also produced a 56-page Republican Party policy platform document, a year-long research project that outlined the party’s stance on economics, natural resources, government reform, foreign policy, health and education and more.
Students on Mock Con’s executive leadership team begin working on the convention as first-year students. General Chair Ramsay Trask ’24, Financial Chair Brandon Konlian ’24, Political Chair Foster Harris ’24, Director of Communications Anna Connolly ’25, Director of Operations Carly Snyder ’24 and General Secretary Peyton Pack ’24 made up this convention’s executive team.
Mock Convention’s prediction, the culmination of four years of student-driven work, is made using a robust, data-driven model that combines state and national poll crosstab analysis and aggregates with modeled and actual GOP likely voter demographic breakdowns for each state and relevant congressional district.
Brian Alexander, associate professor of politics at W&L, and Scott Hoover, A. Stevens Miles Professor of Banking and Finance, served as co-advisers for Mock Con 2024. The political exercise is open to all students; this year’s Political Steering Committee included the presidents of both W&L’s College Democrats and College Republicans. Mock Con strives to inspire a lifetime of civic engagement and political participation in the student body.
“Serving as political chair has been a tremendous honor and more than exceeded my expectations,” said Harris, who led the Mock Con political team including 1,500 student delegates. “Not only did I grow as a leader, but I thought about my role, how we pursue speakers, how to network and talk usefully with campaign leaders and how to make our prediction in a totally different way from when I first got the role. That experiential learning cannot be taught in the classroom, and by learning by doing I have a more comprehensive understanding of leadership, relationship-building, fundraising and the world of politics.”
Five U.S. presidents have spoken at Mock Con throughout its history—Harry Truman, Richard Nixon, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton and Joe Biden—and this year’s slate of speakers included political analysts, journalists, senior government officials and GOP leaders representing diverse viewpoints.
The Delegates’ Parade through downtown Lexington the morning of Friday, Feb. 9, set the tone for the spirited weekend with delegation floats and their representatives decked out in key attributes of each state and territory.
The speakers were divided into four sessions over the course of two days, all held at the Duchossois Tennis Center. Pollster and author Kristen Soltis Anderson kicked off session one Friday, Feb. 9, followed by Candace Owens, author and host of the weekly “Candace Owens Show.”
Session two, held later that night, featured former U.S. Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Axios co-founder and 1986 W&L graduate Mike Allen, former acting U.S. Secretary of Defense Christopher Miller and social psychologist Jonathan Haidt.
Session three on Saturday morning brought to the stage executive vice president of the Trump Organization Donald Trump Jr., Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and U.S. Rep. Wesley Hunt.
And session four later that day closed out the convention with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Turning Point USA founder Charlie Kirk and the Ruthless Variety podcast.
After the announcement of the Republication presidential and vice-presidential nominees, the students were treated to a surprise musical performance from Billy Ray Cyrus and Firerose Cyrus. A balloon drop of hundreds of red, white and blue balloons during the performers’ last song signaled a celebratory end to the convention.
“Mock Con is more than a weekend; it is an event designed to catalyze civil discourse and political engagement in the W&L student body, and I can confidently say that we achieved that aim,” said Mock Con Press Secretary Addie-Grace Cook. “Students were talking about current events, different takes on the speakers and who they might vote for in the upcoming election. This discussion doesn’t happen on any other college campus on a Saturday night. Mock Convention is a defining characteristic of a Washington and Lee education.”
MOCK CON COVERAGE
Read more articles about the 2024 Mock Convention on The Columns, including profiles of students on this year’s executive committee and a feature on unique items from past conventions housed in the university’s Special Collections and Archives.
Washington and Lee University’s 2024 Mock Convention political team has worked tirelessly behind the scenes to crunch the numbers for the latest presidential nominee prediction.
W&L’s University Special Collections and Archives worked with the 2024 Mock Convention to debut an exhibit showcasing extraordinary items from past conventions.
The 28th Mock Convention’s Presidential Gala was held in November 2023 in the Duchossois Tennis Center and Outing Club Pavilion.
Mock Con 2024 hosted a conversation between former Vice President Mike Pense and Bret Baier, Fox News chief political anchor, for its Spring Kickoff event in March 2023.
Meet the six members of this year’s student executive leadership team.
Former First Lady Barbara Bush and First Daughter Barbara Pierce Bush shared lessons and memories from their days in the White House.