The Republican National Committee (RNC), unanimously declared that its preference for holding its 2016 Convention in Cleveland, practically ensuring that the event would take place in the city. Chairman Reince Priebus announced the decision today, adding that he was “excited” about the opportunity, saying that it was a “smart decision.”
Prior to the Republican National Committee’s announcement there had been some discussion over whether the Republican Party should go with Dallas instead of Cleveland, citing the number of high-level donors that live there. In 2014 alone, the entities within the state of Texas donated around 75 million dollars to GOP affiliated groups, with Dallas contributing $2.7 million. Ohio meanwhile donated far less to GOP interests (around $13 million in total).
Their decision seemed to have been based less upon monetary necessity and more upon electoral pragmatism. Ohio is a well-known “swing state,” meaning that, unlike many states which vote consistently either republican or democrat every four years, Ohio has been relatively inconsistent as to which party its citizens believe truly represent their best interests.
In 2004 they chose the republican George W. Bush, while in 2008 and 2012, they chose the democrat Barack Obama. It seems like the Republican National Committee, by choosing Cleveland as the host city for the convention, is banking on its home state choosing them this year. “As goes Ohio, so goes the presidential race,” said Priebus, paraphrasing a well-worn adage in American politics.
In response to the decision, Democrats such as Cuyahoga County Executive Ed FitzGerald, have simply stated that “a convention doesn’t decide which way a state goes.” The 2004 republic national convention took place in New York City and yet the state still went to George W. Bush’s opponent by a wide margin. However there are many other reasons why a state would be chosen as the spot for a National Convention.
In the case of New York, the consensus among analysts at the time was that it was to refocus the political agenda on issues of national security and terrorism (issues on which opponent John Kerry was perceived as weak), since the city had recently suffered the worst terrorist attack on US soil only three years earlier.
The decision to go with Cleveland might have also had to do with the fact that the city of Dallas itself was not willing to expend the enormous amounts of resources required to comply with the RNC’s strict timeline, which would have required the city to be fully prepared to host the convention by late June.
Kay Bailey Hutchison, former Texas senator and one of Dallas’ convention boosters, had said earlier “June is not an option for us” adding that “Reince really wants June.” Thus the decision to host the convention in Cleveland might not just be a political move but also one of convenience for the RNC, who seems quite hungry for the White House after suffering blistering losses in both 2008 and 2012.
Democrats have yet to choose the location of their convention, although rumors abound about the likely candidates, most of which are located either in New England or in the South East. Some of the cities mentioned are, like Dallas, firmly nestled within Democratic territory while others like Birmingham, Alabama are right in the center of the republicans’ Southern dominion.
However like the Republican National Committee’s choice to have their convention in Cleveland, it is likely to be the result of a confluence of factors and not a choice made simply to woo the voters of the state nor milk donors who live in that state.
By Andrew Waddell
Open Secrets 2