Election 2016: Convention History

We've been keeping you updated on the presidential primaries and caucuses happening across the country -- but that's just one of the steps in the election process. Once the voting is over, it's time for the national conventions.

Conventions will be held by both the Republicans and Democrats, with the purpose of the meetings to officially nominate the party's candidates for president and vice president... and to adopt a party's platform.

Philadelphia is the host city for the Democrats. While Cleveland was chosen to host the Republicans coming first in July.

It's been a while since Cleveland has hosted such a big political event. The last time the city hosted a national convention a loaf of bread cost just eight cents. ideastream's Nick Castele takes us back to the early 1900s and explains how this year's convention could be one for the history books.


I’M HERE IN FRONT OF QUICKEN LOANS ARENA… THE VERY BUILDING WHERE IN JUST THREE SHORT MONTHS, WE’LL FIND OUT WHO WILL REPRESENT THE REPUBLICAN PARTY IN NOVEMBER’S GENERAL ELECTION.

THOUSANDS OF DELEGATES FROM ALL 50 STATES, THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA AND FIVE TERRITORIES WILL CONVENE HERE IN CLEVELAND FOR WHAT’S GEARING UP TO BE A HISTORIC REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION – PUSHING THE CITY TO THE CENTER OF U-S POLITICS.

JULY’S NOMINATING CONVENTION WILL CAST THE NATIONAL SPOTLIGHT ON CLEVELAND… AND NOT FOR THE FIRST TIME.

IT’S BEEN 80 YEARS SINCE THE CITY LAST HOSTED THE MAJOR EVENT… BACK IN 1936, THE COUNTRY WAS IN THE MIDST OF THE GREAT DEPRESSION. THE REPUBLICAN PARTY CAME TO NORTHEAST OHIO IN JUNE OF THAT YEAR TO WHAT WAS AT THE TIME THE COUNTRY’S SIXTH LARGEST CITY – BUT THE POLITICAL SCENE LOOKED ‘VERY’ DIFFERENT FROM WHAT WE’RE LIKELY TO WITNESS WITH TODAY’S CANDIDATES.

KANSAS GOVERNOR ALFRED LANDON GAINED THE MOST DELEGATE SUPPORT AND WAS NOMINATED UNANIMOUSLY… BUT HE DIDN’T ACTUALLY ATTEND THE CONVENTION, WHICH WAS HELD AT THE PUBLIC AUDITORIUM IN DOWNTOWN CLEVELAND. INSTEAD, HE LISTENED TO THE RESULTS ON THE RADIO… AND ACCEPTED THE NOMINATION THROUGH A TELEGRAM.

PRESIDENT FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT WOULD LATER DEFEAT LANDON BY A LANDSLIDE IN THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION.

TWELVE YEARS EARLIER IN 1924, CLEVELAND’S VERY FIRST REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION MADE HISTORY AS THE FIRST TO GIVE FEMALE DELEGATES EQUAL REPRESENTATION WITH MEN. THE CITY WAS CHOSEN AS THE SITE FOR THE CONVENTION AFTER A PERSONAL ENDORSEMENT FROM PRESIDENT CALVIN COOLIDGE, IN HONOR OF PRESIDENT HARDING’S HOME STATE OF OHIO, WHO DIED IN OFFICE THE YEAR BEFORE.

DEPENDING ON PRIMARY RESULTS TO COME IN THE NEXT FEW WEEKS AND MONTHS, THIS YEAR’S CONVENTION COULD LOOK VERY DIFFERENT THAN PREVIOUS ONES.

IF ONE OF THE THREE CANDIDATES FAIL TO SECURE THE NUMBER OF DELEGATES NEEDED TO WIN THE NOMINATION, THE CONVENTION WOULD ENTER WHAT IS CALLED A ‘BROKERED’ OR ‘CONTESTED’ CONVENTION…MEANING THERE’S NOT A CLEAR WINNER.

THIS HASN’T HAPPENED IN THE REPUBLICAN PARTY SINCE 1948.

BUT WHAT HAPPENS AT A BROKERED CONVENTION? FIRST, A DELEGATE VOTE IS TAKEN. THIS IS CALLED THE FIRST BALLOT. IF A CANDIDATE FAILS TO REACH THE 1,237 DELEGATES TO SECURE THE NOMINATION, THE CONVENTION IS CONSIDERED BROKERED AND THINGS START TO GET A BIT MORE COMPLICATED. ONCE THE CONVENTION IS BROKERED, THE DELEGATES ARE NO LONGER TIED TO THEIR ORIGINAL CANDIDATE AND ARE FREE TO VOTE FOR WHOMEVER THEY WANT. AT THIS POINT, ALL BETS ARE OFF… DELEGATES CAN BE PERSUADED TO A DIFFERENT CANDIDATE… AND VOTES ARE HELD UNTIL A CANDIDATE REACHES 51% OF DELEGATE VOTES.

THIS CAN TAKE A LONG TIME – LIKE IT DID IN 1880… CANDIDATES WENT THROUGH 36 ROUNDS OF VOTING BEFORE JAMES GARFIELD OF OHIO BECAME THE UNEXPECTED WINNER.

SOME THINK WE COULD SEE A SIMILAR SCENARIO PLAY OUT THIS SUMMER… MAKING CLEVELAND THE STAGE FOR A HISTORICAL CONVENTION.


Another Ohio city – Cincinnati, hosted the Republican National Convention back in 1876. The city was home to the Democratic National Convention in 1856 and 1880.

Instructional Links

Website Article: Newsela, Trump and Clinton Score Easy Wins in New York

https://newsela.com/articles/newyork-primary/id/16831/

May Require Login

Website Article: Our White House, Persuading the People: Presidential Campaigns

http://www.ourwhitehouse.org/persuading.html

Website: Cleveland 2016 Convention

https://www.2016cle.com/

Website: PBS LearningMedia, Election Central

http://www.pbseduelectioncentral.com/election-collection

Classroom Resources: C-SPAN Classroom, Campaign 2016, Conventions

http://www.c-spanclassroom.org/Campaign-2016.aspx#Conventions

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