Tuesday, July 8, 2014

GOP Picks Cleveland for '16 Convention

The Republicans announced today that they will hold their 2016 national convention in Cleveland.

My current home city was in the running, but, apparently, Dallas lost out because the city couldn't host the convention in June, which is when the Republicans want to hold it.

I'll grant you that June is usually a much better month to be in Dallas than July or August, which is when conventions have been held in recent election years. For the Republicans, it will be the first time they have convened in June since 1948.

The political/P.R. side of this is easy to understand. Ohio is perceived to be a swing state. Texas has voted for every Republican nominee, win or lose, since 1980.

Historically, it is true that no Republican has won a presidential election without the support of Ohio. A few Democrats have won presidential elections without winning Ohio (John F. Kennedy in 1960, Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, Grover Cleveland in 1892), but, historically speaking, if a major–party nominee loses Ohio, he has probably lost the election.

Is Ohio really that important in the Electoral College? Well, by itself, I suppose not. It is currently worth 18 electoral votes. Throughout the 20th century, it was worth at least 20 electoral votes and, at its peak, was worth 26. In only three elections since 1900, however, would the outcome have been changed if Ohio had voted for the other nominee.

Democrats have never held their national convention in Cleveland. They have held their convention in Ohio before — in 1880 and in 1856 when they met in Cincinnati. Democrats haven't picked their 2016 site yet — but, according to reports, two Ohio cities, Cleveland and Columbus, are among the six cities being considered.

Republicans met in Cleveland twice in the 20th century.

The first time was in 1924 when they nominated President Calvin Coolidge for a full four–year term. Coolidge became president less than a year earlier when Warren Harding died, and he went on to win by a landslide in November.

The Republicans returned 12 years later to nominate Gov. Al Landon of Kansas to run against President Franklin D. Roosevelt. FDR routed Landon in November, carrying all but two states.

Obviously, if the Republicans are going to try to replicate one of those historical experiences, they will be hoping that 2016 produces another 1924, not another 1936 — although, technically, it won't be able to repeat either because, unless something unexpected happens, neither party will have an incumbent president on the ballot.

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