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2016 Republican National Convention  
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Cleveland, Ohio
July 18-21, 2016

Convention Venue: Quicken Loans Arena

The 2016 Republican National Convention will convene in Cleveland, Ohio on July 18-21, 2016. The RNC chose a 2016 convention date much earlier than in recent elections, allowing the Republican nominee to draw upon campaign cash designated to be spent only in the general election.

Ohio has been a battleground swing-state throughout United States campaigning history. The last candidate to win the presidential election without Ohio was Democrat John F. Kennedy in 1960. The last Republican presidential candidate to win the election without Ohio was Abraham Lincoln, 100 years earlier, in 1860. Cleveland last hosted the Republican National Convention in 1936.

The main 2016 Republican National Convention venue will be the Quicken Loans Arena. This main convention center is located in downtown Cleveland, and referred to locally as "The Q". The multipurpose arena seats 20,500, and includes 2,000 club seats and 88 luxury suites. It is home to three professional sports teams and hosts numerous entertainment events. Other supporting venues within walking distance of 2016 RNC main venue include the Cleveland Convention Center and the Renaissance Cleveland Hotel.

Other cities that were considered to host the 2016 Republican National Convention included Cincinnati, Columbus, Denver, Kansas City, Las Vegas and Phoenix. Columbus and Phoenix were eliminated on April 2, 2014. Cincinnati and Las Vegas withdrew on May 22, 2014. On June 25, 2014, the Republican National Committee announced that the cities of Cleveland and Dallas would continue to the final round of consideration to host the 2016 Convention. The recommendation to select 'Cleveland 2016' was made following a final review by the Republicans' site selection committee on July 8, 2014.

The Republican National Convention is a quadrennial affair organized by the Republican National Committee. The Convention has two principal objectives:

  1. To officially nominate the Republican candidates for president and vice president
  2. To adopt the Republican Party’s political platform

These conventions, which are attended by elected officials, delegates and activists from almost every corner of the country, also provide an opportunity for the party leadership to disseminate information on its election strategy. In addition, the convention offers an unrivaled networking platform for the participants.

At its infancy, the conventions are directly responsible for electing the party’s presidential and vice-presidential nominee. However, the introduction of the modern state-level primaries and caucuses has somewhat diluted the clout of conventions, and instead, turned them into a four-day media event – albeit one that offers a powerful post-convention ‘bounce’ for the nominees.

The first ever Republican National Convention was held on July 6, 1854 in Jackson, Michigan. The convention was initially established as a medium to nominate candidates from within the party to contest the country’s presidential and vice-presidential election, and indirectly serves as the party’s election strategy and operational hub. The convention is also tasked with developing and presenting the party’s unified election platform while the nationwide congregation of delegates during the convention is capitalized by an orchestrated media blitz that is aimed at boosting the morale of the delegates and rank and file party members.

In its early days, the convention, through its appointed state level delegates, was directly responsible in the choice of the party’s candidates, where a simple majority through a show of hands became the preferred selection method. This resulted in a very divisive convention, which is often punctuated with accusations of collusions, corruption and a biased chair, who at the time wields enormous administrative powers, allowing it to dictate and influence the course of a convention.

By 1912, a buildup of pressure from the grassroots eventually saw the introduction of a limited primary system to complement convention level voting. President Theodore Roosevelt, true to form, steamrolled past his adversary, William Howard Taft, by winning nine of the ten primaries, displaying the enormous support he commanded from party members. However, it was a short-lived victory, as the Taft dominated convention voted overwhelmingly in his favor, resulting in his selection as the party’s candidate for the presidential election.

However, the party paid for the conventioneers’ decision to disregard the voice of its members when Taft finished a disastrous third in the presidential elections, behind the Democrat Woodrow Wilson and interestingly, Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt, reeling from the humiliation suffered in the party convention, ran under the banner of the Progressive Party and eventually captured 88 electoral votes and 27% of the popular votes, an astounding figure from a third party candidate has never been matched since.

While the majority of Republicans understood the significance of their errors in disregarding the results from the primaries by then, the old ruling cadres of the party were hesitant to unilaterally cede their power as kingmakers. Consequently, the move towards a wider state level primaries and caucuses somewhat stalled for nearly 40 years, and it took for another jolt for the issue to come to the forefront again.

It an ironic turn of event, Robert Taft, the son of the 1912 presidential candidate Howard, comprehensively defeated strong favorite General Dwight Eisenhower, the incredibly popular former leader of the Allied forces in World War II in the 12-state primary. However, Eisenhower prevailed in the Chicago Convention after his supporters successfully lobbied for the support of the delegates. Despite Eisenhower’s subsequent victory in the American presidential election, the Republican leadership realized that it could have ended very badly for the party with the nomination of yet another candidate that did not received the support of the majority.

The 1968 Democratic Convention saw the setting up of the McGovern-Fraser Commission to revolutionize its nomination system, a move that was closely observed and eventually emulated by the Republicans. The Commission’s report to the Democratic leadership, an 18-point Mandate for Reform, paved the way for the decentralization of the nomination mechanism through the proposed expansion of the primaries and caucuses system to every state in the country. From an initial 12 states, it grew to 20 in 1972, 26 in 1976 and suddenly, there was no holding back as eventually every state in the federation established either their primaries or caucuses for the presidential nomination.

While the dilution of the Convention’s power following the across the board state level primaries has seen its importance substantially reduced, it still plays a crucial part in the eventual nomination of the party’s presidential candidate. Administered by the Committee on Arrangements (COA), the convention continues to serve one of its founding function, which was, the creation of a party election platform that falls under the direct ambit of the Platform Committee, constituted by a pair of delegates from each state in the country, all the while maintaining its responsibility of projecting a focused, unified and confident party to its delegates, ordinary members and the national press.

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