WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans already know that this year's national political conventions will end with a Romney-Ryan ticket for the Republicans and an Obama-Biden ticket for the Democrats.

So have modern-day conventions become irrelevant?

Not completely.

For the parties, conventions are colossally significant events - opportunities to claim precious hours of free prime-time television and showcase their nominees to millions.

Presidential scholar Stephen Wayne at Georgetown University says many Americans just tune in for the final speech by the nominee. But conventions can help launch up-and-comers - like a little-known senate candidate named Barack Obama, who was chosen to give the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic convention.

Keynotes at the meetings: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for the GOP next week, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro for the Democrats the week after.

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