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Government and Politics


Gauging the impact of the 2016 GOP convention on Cleveland
Political Scientist John Green from the University of Akron's Bliss Institute says the choice of Cleveland for Republicans could put pressure on Democrats to hold their convention in Columbus
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE CORRESPONDENT JO INGLES


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Jo Ingles
 
Ohio may not swing for the party that held the convention, but it does give some opportunity to court voters, especially the undecideds
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Political Scientist John Green of the University of Akron says the choice of Cleveland to host the 2016 Republican Convention is a smart choice for the GOP.  He spoke with Ohio Public Radio’s Jo Ingles about the North coast’s effect on the political process, and vice-versa.
Gauging the impact of the 2016 GOP convention on Cleveland

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Green: “It is a big deal to have that kind of attention that comes with the national convention of one of the major parties not to mention the economic benefit because there will be a lot of money spent putting on the convention. And, of course, all of the people who will attend, from the delegates and party leaders to the national and international press corps so I think just from the point of view of the city and the state, it certainly is a big deal. We only have one of these big parties in each of the political parties once every four years and while they don’t quite have the drama they used to have because we typically know who the nominees will be, it is the biggest collection of political people that we ever have and the kind of impact that it will have on the state politically is generally positive. The state doesn’t always go for the party that held the convention there but it does give them some opportunities to court voters, to persuade undecided and to improve their performance on the ballot.”

Ingles: “That leads me to the next question. Now that the Republicans have chosen Cleveland, do they have a political one up on the Democrats and do they have more of an impetus for the Democrats to choose Columbus as their city?”

Green: “You know to the extent that the Republican convention in Cleveland gives the Republicans an edge in Ohio, there very well may be some pressure on the Democrats to bring their convention to Columbus so they can compete on even terms with the Republicans in Ohio. Having said that, of course, lots of factors go in to picking a city and not just a battleground state, but I think from the point of view of Ohio, I think it would be quite exciting to have both of the national conventions in the same city.”

Ingles: “How likely is it that if a party chooses to put their convention in a state that they actually win that state?”

Green: “Well, I think, on balance, if you look back, historically, having a convention within a state does tend to help. But of course some of those states would go Republican or Democratic anyway. And in some cases, we had landslide elections one way or another so it probably wasn’t going to make very much difference at all. But I think it’s not so much having the convention in a particular state but the kind of strategy that comes with that choice. For instance, the last two competitors for the Republicans were Cleveland, a Midwestern city, basically a Democratic city in a swing state. The other option was Dallas which is a solidly Republican city in a solidly Republican state. So one can easily see how the choice of Cleveland could be part of a more moderate strategy to try to win the swing states, to try to put a president in the White House. You know, the last couple of elections in Ohio have been very close but the Democrats have won both of them. And it is hard to see how the Republican nominee in 2016 could plan a strategy without counting on winning Ohio so from that extent, as part of a broader strategy, the city one picks and the state in which that city is located can make a big difference.

The convention could mean hundreds of millions of dollars for Cleveland’s economy. A University of Tampa study showed the 2012 GOP convention resulted in 50-thousand delegates, party officials and reporters converging on that city, making a $404 million economic impact.

Green: “The kind of impact that it will have on the state politically is generally positive. The state doesn’t always go for the party that held the convention there but it does give them some opportunities to court voters, to persuade undecided and to improve their performance on the ballot.”

Ingles: "Now that the Republicans have chosen Cleveland, do they have a political one up on the Democrats and do they have more of an impetus for the Democrats to choose Columbus as their city?”

Green: “You know to the extent that the Republican convention in Cleveland gives the Republicans an edge in Ohio, there very well may be some pressure on the Democrats to bring their convention to Columbus so they can compete on even terms with the Republicans in Ohio.”

Democrats have won the last two presidential elections in Ohio, so Green says it makes sense for the party to focus on Cleveland, a heavily Democratic city, as part of the party’s political strategy. The Republicans are considering two dates in 2016: one in late June, and the other in mid-July.
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