Cleveland Rocks The RNC

Ohio native David A. Graham seems a bit puzzled that Cleveland will host the 2016 Republican convention:

Cleveland is an interesting and counterintuitive pick for a variety of non-snarky political reasons. Most importantly, it’s the 1d4c41657anchor of the state’s liberal, union-friendly, northeastern corner, as you can see in the county-by-county map of the 2004 presidential election [to the right]. George W. Bush won the state, but Cuyahoga County, Cleveland’s home, and surrounding cities went strongly for John Kerry. (Cleveland is marked with a black dot.) Since 10 percent of the state’s population is in Cuyahoga County, Bush only won the state by about 2 percent, despite carrying so many counties. …

The last Republican to serve as mayor of Cleveland was George Voinovich, who left office in 1989 and went on to serve as governor and U.S. senator. In these respects, Cincinnati, which has a Democratic mayor but is in a more conservative part of the state and close to Speaker John Boehner’s home district, might have made more sense.

Weigel approves of the decision:

You do not want to see a tourist city at the height of convention season—imagine going to Venice or Brugge if entire sections were cordoned off by $50 million worth of public security forces. No, here’s what you need for a convention: an arena, a downtown, and an airport. Cleveland has all of those things. Unlike Tampa, host of a 2012 Republican convention that stranded delegates as far as 45 minutes away from the arena (seriously, and I was with the Iowa delegation), it spreads in a nice ameba pattern with no pesky bays or gulfs taking up real estate. In July, when this convention is likely to be held, average temperatures only rise to 80 or so – 10 degrees cooler than Tampa, with far fewer hurricanes. It’s an easy road trip through battleground states for us East Coast political hacks.

Morrissey also approves:

The candidates make more of a difference than the venue, and ground organization in the election more than in the convention. Still, this looks like a better choice in terms of what it says about assertiveness. Dallas would have been an easy choice, in deep-red Texas, perhaps giving an impression of either insularity or complacency. Choosing Cleveland shows that Republicans are serious about the Rust Belt and want to highlight that effort.

But Harry Enten notes that holding the convention in Ohio probably won’t make much of a difference for Republicans:

On average, candidates have done only 0.4 percentage points better [in convention states] than we’d expect given the swing in the national margin. That could be just noise; it could be a very small effect. Fourteen candidates did better in the state of the convention than we’d have expected, but nine candidates did worse.

If we look at just the Republican side, the candidates have done 0.7 percentage points worse compared to their national swing on average. Six candidates did better, and six candidates lost ground. This included Romney, who gained on McCain’s 2008 margin in Florida, but by fewer points than he gained nationally.

Meanwhile, Diana Lind examines what Cleveland is paying for the privilege:

One would think that the convention would pay for its venues and security, but actually, that comes at the local and national taxpayers’ cost. And what a cost it will be: The Republican National Committee has requested that the host committee put $68 million in escrow to cover the fees for hosting the convention.

Why are local politicians, including Democrat mayors, lobbying to host the convention then? Like other outsized gatherings, this one will fill tens of thousands of hotel rooms and bring economic activity to the city. Indeed, as a study from last election season’s host – Tampa Bay – showed, a convention can generate $214 million in direct and indirect spending.

Meanwhile, Cohn raises his eyebrows over how the venue relates to the Obamacare debate:

Whether or not they intend to make Obamacare a central focus of the 2016 presidential campaign, they’re going to talk about it at their convention. The conservative base would have it no other way. But if [Republican Ohio Governor John] Kasich wins reelection this year, then the host state governor, a well-regarded conservative and model Republican in almost every other respect, will also be the state’s most outspoken and eloquent spokesman for why the right’s absolutist opposition to the Medicaid expansion is so wrong.

It’s not the end of the world, obviously. People make way too much of convention geography and these sorts of rhetorical contradictions. But this was already a difficult issue for national Republicans to finesse, as writers like Steve BenenGreg Sargent, and my colleague Brian Beutler have discussed. Putting the 2016 convention in Ohio, where the Medicaid expansion has been such a prominent issue, probably won’t make that easier.

Update from a reader:

As a Cleveland journalist, I’ve been following Cleveland‘s bid to host the convention. Part of the pitch to the RNC is that Cleveland‘s basketball arena sits next to our ballpark, giving the RNC the ability to take the convention outside, 2008-Denver style, to anoint the 2016 nominee in front of 40,000 “fans” under a summer-night sky.

The only hiccup? Cleveland‘s ballpark is called Progressive Field.