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What You Need to Know About the 2016 RNC

Cleveland RNC logo

After two years of planning and preparation, it’s showtime.  The 2016 Republican National Convention kicks off today in Cleveland.  WKSU’s Andrew Meyer caught up with David Cohen, a political science professor at the University of Akron and a fellow at the Bliss Institute of Applied Politicsfor a primer on what to expect from this year’s convention. 

Past conventions typically feature a lot of speeches from party luminaries, but this isn’t a typical year.   Cohen expects there to be a lot of discussion about the party platform that was agreed upon last week.  There will be an evening that’s focused on introducing the vice presidential running mate.   Either the second to the last day or the last day will be dedicated to the roll call of the states, and Cohen says  then it’s introducing, or rather, reintroducing the presidential nominee to the party.

What to look for
The big story is to what extent has the party been able to come together because of questions of just what support Donald Trump will get from the party.  “The last two presidential nominees for the party will not be present.  That’s unprecedented in modern party history, and I think  that sends  a signal that the party is at war with itself,” says Cohen.

Kasich’s role
What does it say that the Governor of the host state for the convention has no role at the convention?  Cohen says it highlights the split in the party, the fact that Governor John Kasich, the last challenger to Trump in the race, has not endorsed him.  “In a normal election year, the people that ran, they get behind the person that won.  They endorse them, support them, they campaign for them.  That is not happening this year.”

A diminished role for the  Ohio delegation

photo of David Cohen
David Cohen is a professor of political science at the University of Akron

Cohen says, often, Ohio is the state that gets to put the nominee over the top.   That won’t be the case this year.  Ohio’s GOP primary this year was winner take all, and Governor Kasich won the Ohio primary.  That means that there are no Trump delegates in the Ohio delegation.  Cohen adds, “I don’t think Mr. Trump has a particularly fond view of [the Ohio delegation] because of what happened in the primary.

Beyond the convention hall
There are dozens of events scheduled for Cleveland this week beyond the convention hall.  “Parties, receptions, watch parties… it’s a week that supposed to be about celebrating the party.”  But there will also be posturing for the 2018 statewide races. All of the state-level statewide seats will be up, not to mention, the governor’s seat.  Cohen says what’s likely to happen at the Convention and in the following months is candidates positioning themselves to get a headstart.  It could be a really good preview of what’s to come.

Andrew Meyer is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.