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Diplomacy in Action

Cleveland and Beyond: The 2016 Presidential Elections

Dr. John Green, Director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, The University of Akron
Cleveland, OH
July 18, 2016




Date: 07/18/2016 Location: Cleveland, OH Description: Dr. John Green, Director of the Ray C. Bliss Institute of Applied Politics, briefs foreign journalists at the 2016 Republican National Convention. - State Dept Image

11:00 A.M. EDT

THE REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION, CLEVELAND, OH

MR GREEN: (In progress) -- how it might matter for the general election. But then I think the most important thing is to try to answer your questions that you might have about the process or the election.

Of course, the Republican National Convention begins today. One week from today, the Democratic National Convention will begin in Philadelphia. Both of these events are the end of the presidential nominating process. As you I’m sure are aware, the United States has a very complicated and long process of picking presidential nominees, and the conventions are the very last step in that process.

Now, originally, when the conventions were developed back in the 19th century, the conventions actually chose the nominees with very little input from the public or from anyone outside of the body itself. The conventions were literally the representation of the state political parties all across the country. But as I’m sure many of you know, in the 20th century that changed with the development of primary elections. So now many of the delegates that will be here in Cleveland and many of them that will be in Philadelphia next week were actually chosen by voters in primaries or some of them picked in party meetings – we call them caucuses – which are kind of the equivalent of conventions but at the local and state level. So the people who will be in the hall tomorrow night over at the Q or tonight and for the rest of this week and the people who will be in the hall in Philadelphia are representatives of the – not just the state parties but of the voters in those states, which has changed the convention process somewhat.

Now, in a – part of what will happen here in Cleveland and will happen in Philadelphia is that the parties will take care of some very important activities. First thing they’ll do is they’ll settle on their rules. Rules are often controversial because they can affect who may or may not be nominated. And as you know, last week there’s a little bit of controversy here in Cleveland about whether the rules would be changed perhaps to advantage the opponents of Donald Trump, and we may have some further discussion of the rules today. The rules are not just for this convention; they’ll also be the rules for the primaries four years from now, and every four years the parties adjust their rules in way or another.

The second thing – the piece of business that will happen is the adoption of the party platform. In most of the rest of the world, what we call a party platform would be called a party manifesto. It’s a list of the issue – the official issue positions of the party. Because American political parties are big and diverse, the platforms often contain many different issue positions, and they don’t always line up with the presidential candidate who will be nominated by the party.

Then the final piece of official business will be the official nomination of the presidential and vice presidential candidate. Here in Cleveland, that will be Donald Trump and Governor Pence of Indiana. But of course, that’s the official business. Behind and around the official business is, of course, the politics of the convention. It turns out that national conventions are very important because they’re the beginning of the fall election campaign. This year, they’re particularly important because of the controversies that we saw in both the Republican and Democratic parties – heavily contested primaries; the presumptive nominees having strong critics from within their own party as well as from the other party. So this is an opportunity here in Cleveland for Donald Trump to project a more positive image, to bring his party together, and to prepare his campaign organization for the fall campaign. And the same thing will happen in Philadelphia. That gives Secretary Clinton an opportunity to do the same types of things with her party. Politics are a little different in the Democratic Party than the Republican Party, but in both instances there is a very strong political element.

Of course, a lot of what people like me will be watching is how that politics appears in the adoption of the platform, the adoption of the rules, and the actual nomination of the particular candidates.

Now, I’d be happy in just a moment to go into any of the mechanics of how conventions work if you like, but let me just talk for a moment about the fall campaign. Conventions matter because they set up the fall campaign. We are looking for a very close, very hard-fought, and probably very negative presidential campaign. And if you wanted to have a really good example of how the campaign is likely to work, there’s no better place to go than the state of Ohio. And so let me just talk about how that actual campaign might work by talking to you about Ohio, where we happen to be.

Over here on this far screen is a map of Ohio, and you can see different colors – the five major regions of Ohio. The reason Ohio is the critical battleground state in a presidential election is that it’s very diverse and it covers all of the different – almost all of the diversity of the United States. Now, we’re in – up in the upper left-hand corner of the blue area of Ohio. We’re in that part of Ohio. That’s northeastern Ohio. That’s the most Democratic part of the state of Ohio. It’s also where the most voters live. About 40 percent of all the voters in Ohio live in northeastern Ohio.

Now, that area of Ohio looks very much politically like the northeastern part of the United States – like New York, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. And this is – those are states and this is a region where Democrats have to do very, very well. So this is an area where Hillary Clinton will have to spend a lot of time trying to turn out the core democratic vote.

Now, this year things are a little bit different because the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, has some appeal to certain Democratic groups that are very strong in northeastern Ohio, particularly white working class voters.

But if you look down the left side, you’ll come to the green section of Ohio. That’s the part of Ohio that’s like Appalachia. It’s very much like West Virginia, North Carolina. It’s an area that’s very impoverished but very – and that because of its economic problems tends to vote Democratic, but it’s also culturally very conservative, and that has become the swing region of Ohio. Probably the candidate that wins Ohio in November will be the candidate that wins the Appalachian region of Ohio.

If you bend around the bottom of the chart to the right-hand side, you’ll see a yellow area. That’s the Cincinnati-Dayton area – southwest Ohio. That’s the most conservative part of the state. That’s the Republican bastion. Donald Trump has to do very well there in order to win the election. But that part of Ohio looks very much like the southern part of the United States.

And then if you go up to the top again, you’ll see a kind of orange area. That’s northwestern Ohio – area of small industrial cities. That part of Ohio looks like Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri. So you can see in the four corners of the state you essentially have four different regions, each that look like other regions of the United States.

Now, the red part that’s in the middle, central Ohio, is dominated by the city of Columbus. The city of Columbus is the capital of Ohio. But what’s important about the Columbus area are the suburbs of Columbus. You can pick up the suburbs of Columbus and take them to Denver, to Phoenix, to Sacramento, California – to any number of western states and just set them down and they would – you would not be able to tell the difference. So central Ohio represents the growing suburban vote in the United States which is, of course, very strong in the western part of the United States. So you can see right here in Ohio the diversity of the country. Different candidates have to win in the different sections of the state, but they also have to compete in each other’s regions, because ultimately all the votes add up.

Ohio’s a very, very competitive state – very, very close. As some of you may know, the polls in the state right now show it absolutely dead even between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, and we expect a very, very competitive election going forward.

Well, I’d like to – having covered this very briefly, I’d like to turn to questions from you all, either about the mechanics of the convention or the mechanics of the election. Anything is fair game.

Do we have a question? I think right back --

MODERATOR: We are making a transcript of this, so we really do appreciate it if you talk into the microphone when you ask a question. Thank you very much. We know you have loud voices.

QUESTION: Hi, how are you? My name is Renzo Ruf. I am here with some Swiss newspapers. I have a question concerning your home state governor. There has been a lot of talk again this morning about his role, the role he’s playing. He’s meeting with delegations on the outskirts of the convention. What do you think – what’s his game plan? Is he helpful? Is he hurting the campaign of Donald Trump? Thank you.

MR GREEN: So your question was about Governor Kasich of Ohio?

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR GREEN: Yes. Well, Governor Kasich of course was one of Donald Trump’s opponents in the primary process. And in fact, he was the last person to withdraw when it became clear that Trump would have the nomination. Governor Kasich, very popular in Ohio, very important to the Republican effort in Ohio that – whatever Governor Kasich does. However, he has some strong disagreements with Donald Trump, and so for those reasons he will not be speaking at the convention. That’s unusual. Usually the sitting governor of a state welcomes the delegates to the convention. Sometimes even a governor from the rival party will welcome people to the convention. So Governor Kasich’s in a position to make a very big difference to the Republican effort in Ohio, but he has not yet come to terms with Donald Trump and Trump’s campaign.

I’m not surprised that, being a political leader, that he’s around. This is – talking to people, visiting various delegations. This is, of course, the biggest assemblage of Republican officials that you can find in the country, and this may have a lot to do with how the fall campaign develops. If you look at how competitive Ohio, though – is, though, both parties will have to get their organizations engaged to turn out key voters, and Governor Kasich and his allies in the Ohio Republican Party are an absolutely crucial piece of that. So it’ll be interesting to see when and if the governor gets behind the presidential nominee.

Now, it’s important to remember that there are other things at stake in Ohio besides the presidential election. The United States incumbent governor – I mean senator, Rob Portman, is up for re-election. There are members of Congress that are up for re-election. There are lots of state officials. So it may very well be that the Republican organization in Ohio will work on state officials, state elections, and perhaps give less emphasis to the presidential campaign.

Yes sir.

QUESTION: Hi, this is Lalit Jha from PTI, Press Trust of India. Welcome to the Foreign Press Center. Governor Kasich not attending the convention and is not supporting Mr. Trump. What impact it would have on Mr. Trump’s prospect in Ohio?

MR GREEN: Well, it could have a really big impact. The – one of the key things in a – winning a very competitive state like Ohio is voter turnout, and both the political parties, the Democrats and the Republicans, have very strong organizations in this state that are dedicated to getting people to turn out and vote in large numbers. And that may be especially important this year, because, as I’m sure you all know, both of the nominees – Secretary Clinton and Donald Trump – are not admired by many, many voters. In fact, in the language of polling, they have very high negatives. So it may very well be that many Ohio voters will be inclined not to vote based on their dislike of both presidential candidates. So it may be that that phone call, that knock on the door from a neighbor, that email from a local party official may turn out to be the difference between whether they vote or not. So it’s very, very important for these party organizations to be engaged.

On the Democratic side, there is a strong affinity between the Democratic organizations and Hillary Clinton. But on the Republican side, there is a good bit of tension between the Republican organizations and Donald Trump, and Governor Kasich’s in a position to play a crucial role in perhaps bringing the party to support their nominee. On the other hand, if he chooses not to do that, that would just make it another challenge for Trump in actually winning Ohio – a state where, as I indicated, the race is currently tied.

QUESTION: This is Maurin Picard from Le Figaro press. Thank you. I’m going to sit down.

MR GREEN: Okay.

QUESTION: Someone said that the GOP was no longer the party of Abraham Lincoln but rather the party of Trump. Do you believe that this convention is the first convention of a new era, an era where some part of the delegates are blue collars, which will be – which – something which remain to be seen in the next few days, and if this is going to change things for the internal mechanics of the GOP for the years to come starting this week in Cleveland? Thank you.

MR GREEN: I don’t believe that this election is the – this convention is the beginning of a new era, but what it is a culmination of a process that has been going on for a long time. As time has passed, candidates have become much more important in securing the nominations for themselves, and party leaders have had a smaller and smaller role. And Donald Trump is a very good example of that. Most party leaders in the United States – Republican Party leaders did not support him. They supported – at least initially. They supported one of the many other candidates that were running. There’s a great deal of disquiet among the Republican Party officials about Trump and his prospects, not only for perhaps losing the election – of course, party leaders like to win elections – but some of them are even more frightened if he were to win the elections, right, because what kinds of policies would he enact. So I think we’re seeing the – sort of the culmination of a long, steady process.

Now, this process has occurred on the Democratic side as well. And the Democrats responded to that by altering their rules. And I’m sure you’ve heard of the superdelegates, which are appointed delegates. I was teaching a class this fall at my university on the primaries, and one student who was a very strong supporter for Barry – for Senator Sanders said, “I just can’t stand these superdelegates. Why do we have superdelegates?” And then another student who was sitting right next to the first student said, “Well, I’m really strongly for Governor Kasich, and I wish Republicans had superdelegates, right, because then we’d be able to stop Trump.” So one of the things that may happen as the result of this election is that the Republican Party may change its rules like the Democrats did to give a bigger role for the permanent party, right – the party officials – rather than just the nominees who compete in the general election. Of course, there’ll be people who don’t want to see the rules changed, right – either people who supported Donald Trump or who might want to support a future Donald Trump, right, who might be able to take over the party and run their own campaign.

But I do think that after 2012, the – and when the Republicans lost to President Obama, Republicans argued – Republican Party officials – argued that the party had to become more diverse, had to be more inclusive, more like the party of Abraham Lincoln. I don’t think that Donald Trump necessarily does that. But he may create some diversity in another way: by attracting white working-class voters who’ve been slowly drifting Republican, but he might bring them in large, large numbers into the Republican Party. So if you think of the image of the Republican Party as the party of the affluent, of the wealthy, it may turn out to have a very strong blue-collar base after this election. And it’s very interesting to wonder how those two groups would be able to get along, and the answer might be “not very well.”

So I think there is some potential – whatever it may do to the party long-term, there’s some potential to change its coalition short-term.

QUESTION: Hi. I’m Iiyama from Japan, Yomiuri Shimbun. I have just one question about religious persons and the – according to the Pew Research Center, the recent published opinion poll, the Evangelicals – white Evangelicals – are strongly supporting Trumps even though they do not think that Trump is religious. So why it could happen and – yeah. Why the white Evangelicals can support Trump?

MR GREEN: Well, what that – this case of Evangelicals tells us something important about American voters. There’s voting in the primaries and there’s voting in the general election, and many Evangelicals, particularly the less frequent worship-attending Evangelicals, did vote for Trump. But in many of those primaries, Trump did not get a majority of the vote. He got – he won, but he didn’t get a majority. But many of the more traditional Evangelicals voted for Ted Cruz or for Mike Huckabee or for one of the other candidates. So we saw some divisions in the Evangelical ranks. And many Evangelical leaders during the primaries said you can’t be a real Evangelical and vote Donald Trump. Look at his lifestyle. He doesn’t – he thinks the Bible’s a good book, right? I mean, the sort of things that would not fit with Evangelical values.

But here we are looking at the general election, and Evangelicals as a whole are coalescing behind Trump. Now, some of them like him, but the vast majority of them do not. They just dislike Hillary Clinton more. And so they’re – when they think about things like nominees for the United States Supreme Court, when they think about judges she may appoint to the lower courts, when they think about policies such as abortion and gay rights, they’re troubled. When they think about some of the policies in the health care act that impinge on faith-based charities, they are concerned about that. So what we will likely see is the Evangelicals turn out and vote for Trump, not because they like him but because they don’t like Hillary Clinton.

Now, this represents a maturation, if you will, a growing pragmatism among Evangelical voters who are willing to support a candidate that is not necessarily the kind of candidate they would like in religious terms to defeat a candidate that they dislike in policy terms.

Now, we saw this in 2012. As some of you may know, many Evangelical Protestants do not get along very well with Mormons, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints. And in the primaries, Mitt Romney, himself a Mormon, had a very hard time getting the support of Evangelicals. But in the general election, they turned out and voted for him in very large numbers because they preferred a Mormon to President Obama.

So this is the – you can see the shift from primaries to general elections. And we’ll see this kind of shift among many voting groups in the United States that we’ll find, for instance, that they will vote for Secretary Clinton not because they particularly care for her, but because they think Donald Trump is worse. And so that’s part of the process of having a two-party system, that kind of thing.

QUESTION: My name is Alex Panetta. I’m with the Canadian Press. I wanted to ask you about two battleground states – this one and the one next door to the east. Across the border you have a – in Pennsylvania you have a region that was heavily Democratic forever – union, steel; kind of the same thing that’s in this – on this side of the border, here in Ohio around Youngstown, but now it’s trending Republican, and I’m wondering what’s happening there. Is it a story about de-unionization? Is it about the resource industry no longer being compatible with the modern Democratic Party? I’m just trying to ask you – I’d like to ask you what exactly is happening and what’s driving this trend in these two areas on either side of the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

MR GREEN: Very, very good question. But let me preface it by saying that while Ohio and Pennsylvania are in many ways alike, their partisan bias is a little bit different. Both are very heavily – very competitive states. Ohio leans Republican, and has for many, many years – leans just slightly Republican. And as you may know, no Republican president’s ever been elected without carrying Ohio. Pennsylvania leans slightly Democratic. It doesn’t mean that a Republican candidate can’t win Pennsylvania, but on balance they usually don’t. But the – where the states are alike is the eastern part of Ohio and the western part of Pennsylvania. Think of a corridor between Cleveland and Pittsburgh, or – and then maybe from Pittsburgh to Cincinnati. That’s that area.

And there’s a couple of things going on there. One is the – for many, many years we used to call that area as part of the Rust Belt. And it was because of the steady decline of heavy industry. Well, as you may know, heavy industry is still very prominent in Cleveland and Pittsburgh, but its high-tech industry and it doesn’t employ very many people. So there’s a whole generation of individuals that either have jobs and have lost them due to automation, or whose parents and grandparents had jobs, and they have a certain nostalgia for that.

Now, there’s some new things occurring. There’s a new development of natural gas and oil production. That is a prospect to help those kinds of people with jobs. But for the moment, there’s a problem because of the low price of oil and natural gas. So there isn’t the level of economic development in that region right now that many people have been in favor of.

So here’s a group of people that feel very disenfranchised. They have historically been Democratic, but they’ve slowly moved little by little towards the Republican area; but they’re not much happier with the Republican Party than they are with the Democratic Party, because the Republican Party has not really catered to their concerns.

And if you think of the three issues that Donald Trump emphasized during the primaries – trade, immigration, and security – in the minds of many of these voters, those things reinforce each other. There’s long – in western Pennsylvania and eastern Ohio, there’s long been a strong opposition to what we in the United States call free trade. But if you look at the elites of the Republican and Democratic parties, they’re free traders. I mean, maybe they’re right, but – in terms of the long-term economy, but in the short run, these particular voters feel like they’re not being listened to.

Immigration’s not as big of an issue in Ohio and Pennsylvania as it is in other parts of the country, but it resonates with that notion. Free trade takes jobs abroad; immigration brings in competitive workers into the U.S.

And of course, this all gets tied up with nationalism and an idea of national security. And many of these voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania, because of the declining economic prospects, have served in the military. That’s a great way for them to – for young men and women to advance in their careers, to go serve in the military. And so if you go into small towns in this – these two states, almost anyone you meet will have relatives that serve in the military. So there’s a sort of strong nationalistic national security tendency there.

So if Donald Trump does very, very well – as many polls suggest he will – with these kinds of votes, he has a very good chance of carrying both Ohio and Pennsylvania. But the key question there is what other votes might Trump lose. Remember, there are voters in Pennsylvania and in Ohio, some of them traditional Republicans, that don’t care for Donald Trump. And they don’t care for him on these three issues, right? So there is – so to the extent that Trump can add these voters, he’s in good shape, but he has to not lose a lot of more traditional voters in those two states.

QUESTION: Hello. It’s not working.

MODERATOR: Yes it is.

QUESTION: Is it? Yeah. Hi. Frederic Autran, the French newspaper Liberation. Thank you for the briefing. Donald Trump has proven that he could win the primary running a very unusual campaign, relying mostly on media coverage, not spending money on TV ads. Do you think he has any chance to replicate this in the general election, or does he really need to fortify his – its field operation, especially in states like Ohio?

MR GREEN: Well, the conventional wisdom is that he needs to run a more traditional campaign, that he needs to spend a fair amount of money on media, but more importantly he has to develop or to get the support the local party organizations to turn out the vote. And that turns out to be very important. Television and other forms of media can help persuade people in favor of one candidate or the other. But it’s the turn-out-the-vote efforts, the get-out-the-vote efforts that actually get those people to the polls. And as I mentioned a moment ago, that might be especially important this year because of the high negatives that both candidates have.

Now, I said “according to the conventional wisdom.” But according to the conventional wisdom, Donald Trump should not be the nominee of the Republican Party, right? He should have lost a long time ago. But clearly he was able to run a campaign that persuaded many millions of voters to support him.

I suspect that Trump will be able to use much of his strategy that brought him the nomination in the general election. He is a master of a certain kind of politics, and uses the – both the old media and the new media very, very effectively. But my sense is that he will have to supplement that campaign with some of the more traditional activities, because he’s appealing to a much broader audience in a general election than in the primaries.

And that’s an important thing to remember. Even though Donald Trump got more votes than any Republican presidential nominee has ever gotten in the primaries, it’s just a small fraction of the electorate, right? Other people vote in the Democratic Party and a lot of Americans don’t vote in anybody’s primary, right? But they may vote in the general election.

So anyway, I think we may see a hybrid campaign going into the fall. Certainly, some things have worked well for Mr. Trump, whether one agrees with him or not in terms of policy. But he’s facing a completely different electorate and he’s facing a very experienced and determined opponent, so I think we’ll see a hybrid campaign.

My – I anticipate right now for it to be a very close campaign. People often ask me, “Can Trump win?” The answer is yes. But I would not want to say whether he will win or not, right, because a close election is very, very difficult to predict.

QUESTION: Hi, how are you? I’m Hiro Aida with Kyodo News, Japan’s news agency. My question is about follow-up question to the transformation of a party here and the national parties. You said the transformation of this Republican Party has been here for a long time. And when did it start this time around? I think – I understand that the character of political parties may change over time, but this time around, when did that transformation process started? That’s my first question.

And when you say – mention – refer to the coalitions of the party, what kind of coalitions you are talking about? And another question is: What do you think about the power of so-called alternative right at this moment in the political --

MR GREEN: I didn’t hear your last part of your --

QUESTION: Alternative right, alt-right. There is a group which is called alternative right or alternative conservatives. How do you evaluate the power of those people?

MR GREEN: Well, let me try to answer the – your questions in reverse order. One of the problems that Donald Trump has in uniting the Republican Party is that he is not a consistent conservative. In fact, he is quite disparate in his issue beliefs. And there are numerous strict conservatives who are very unhappy with him, whether they’re social conservatives who would like to see him be much stronger on issues like abortion and gay rights or – but also foreign policy conservatives who would like him to have a more comprehensive view of Americans’ relations in the world, understanding both its strengths and limitations. To many foreign policy conservatives, Donald Trump looks like somebody who doesn’t understand the complexity of international relations and wants to solve everything in a particular way. But then there are also economic conservatives that have some real doubts about Donald Trump. For instance, one of the principles of economic conservatives is free trade, and – but Donald Trump has said he’s going to tear up these trade deals, right? And so Trump has a serious amount of work to do to bring those conservative groups into his camp. They were quite – they’re quite negative on him. Now, maybe Governor Pence will help with that. Maybe the prospect of Hillary Clinton being president will help with that. We’ll have to see.

So the ideological groups that have played such a prominent role in Republican Party politics have seen their role diminished this year. Now, how that might play in the future really remains to be seen, but they simply don’t have, say, the influence they had in 2012 or 2008 or even back to 2004. So there’s a new complex of power in the Republican Party right now, and so Trump has a problem with the strict conservatives of various kinds, but as I’ve alluded to already, he also has a problem with the organizational Republicans who tend to be more moderate in their policy positions. So he’s got a real balancing act to try to pull the whole party together.

When I talk about voter coalitions, there are strong underlying demographic factors in the vote. And if you think of the Republican coalition of voter coalition of 2012, it was upper-status whites, Evangelical Protestants, and moderates and independents in the professional classes – lawyers, doctors, and so forth. If you looked at the Democratic coalition, it was a coalition of folks whose careers are connected to government and education, to some extent the news media. You’ve probably seen our “avoid the liberal media” – that sort of – those sort of signs. Not to say that reporters are biased, but there is a certain sense in which those types of professions lean Democratic – blue-collar workers and racial and religious minorities – blacks, Hispanics, Muslims, so forth.

Well, Donald Trump has the possibility of shaking up that coalition by moving white-collar – I mean blue-collar workers, particularly whites, into the Republican Party in large numbers. That would have implications for the presidential election, but it also could have implications for elections down the road and in the future. The potential loss is that Donald Trump might lose upper-status business individuals but also people in the professions, particularly well-educated women who might find – given some of the problems that Trump has had in his comments about women, might find it more congenial to vote for the woman in the race, right, Hillary Clinton, even though they probably don’t agree with her on many, many different issues.

Well, the flip side of that is what can happen to the Democratic coalition. In 2012, when President Obama was re-elected in a close election, Mitt Romney won 59 percent of the white vote. President Obama won 41 percent of the white vote. Well, 41 percent of the white vote plus African Americans, Hispanics, non-whites, was enough to win. But what if Hillary Clinton were to only get 30 percent of the white vote? Lots of states would go Republican if everything else stayed the same.

So just as Trump can shake up the Republican coalition, he may also be involved in shaking up the Democratic coalition as the two candidates compete for different kinds of voters. The two electorates will not look completely different, but they could be significant changes. The durability of those changes, though, would depend on what a President Trump or a President Clinton might do once in office. And we, of course, don’t know who will win so we don’t know what they’ll do.

But back to your very first question: When did this change start? Well, the transformation of the Republican Party has two stages and they’re related to one another. The first stage began in 1964 when Barry Goldwater was the Republican standard-bearer, and the Republicans were seriously defeated. And Senator Goldwater after the election was asked, “Well, what do you think about this?” And he said, “Well, we lost the election but we won control of the Republican Party.” And after 1968, the Republican Party all across the United States slowly moved in a conservative direction.

The second part of this came with Ronald Reagan, who was able to not only further that trend but capitalize on it. And what we now may see is a third transformation where – Reagan appealed to lots of blue-collar people. We had a name for them; we called them the Reagan Democrats. They were Democrats, but they voted for Ronald Reagan. Well, it may very well be that under Trump, those sorts of voters will become – finally become Republicans in large numbers. So we may be looking at a third transformation of the GOP.

So it’s really – the Republican Party of the 1950s was a party primarily of the Midwest and the Northeast, and now it’s primarily become a party of the South and the West, being able to compete in some Midwestern states like Ohio. So this has been a steady transformation over time.

And just – not to prod along too much, but there are many people who think that Donald Trump is simply unqualified to be president. I’m just old enough to remember when people thought that Ronald Reagan was unqualified to be president, because he is a movie actor. What does a movie actor know about being president? Of course, Ronald Reagan had actually been governor of California, even though the movie actor criticism stuck with him. Donald Trump has never been a governor or senator, never had any government experience. But still, it’s worth knowing that we often have transformational candidates, and for good or for ill, but the – one measure of a transformational candidate is that people can’t imagine that that individual could be a good president.

MODERATOR: Any other questions?

QUESTION: So again, I’m Iyama (ph), I’m from Japan. So do you think this election could be a so-called critical election on the beginning of the party realignment process?

MR GREEN: The – yes, I think it is possible that this election could be an election that will realign the electorate in the United States. Who knows what’s going to happen, but there’s real potential for that to occur.

As some of you may know, in the academic literature on American elections, there is an argument for periodic realignments of the party system. So we always have two political parties that matter, but their content changes. On one of the previous questions, the questioner noted that many people believe that the Republican Party of today is not the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln. I think there’s a lot of truth to that, but we still have a Republican Party, and the Democratic and Republican coalitions change over time.

And the – it may very well be that we’re in one of those realigning moments, and partly it’s because of the changed circumstances of the world. We’ve talked a lot about globalization. Globalization’s effects are very large now and ongoing, and we don’t just see those effects in the United States. We see them in Europe. The vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union is an example of those same types of tensions. Also, we have the – one generation, the Baby Boom Generation – which I’m a member of, I hate to admit – about to exit the political process – not exit the world, but we’re also – and we have a new set of younger generations that have a very different view of the world coming into being.

So we may be at one of those moments where, because of changes in the world, the American electorate is willing to make a big change too. So I think it’s entirely possible. That’s one of the things that makes this election very exciting, but also to some people, very frightening, right? Because we may see some very dramatic changes at the ballot box.

QUESTION: Hello. My name is Alex. I am from TASS news agency, it’s a Russian news agency. I have one question about the – tomorrow’s procedures on the convention that concerns the appointment – the candidate appointment. Can you describe me – well, like for a child – five-year-old child the procedure, how it’s going to be and in which way it will be announced? Thank you.

MR GREEN: Well, what is going to happen tomorrow night is what is called the roll call of the states, and first, there’ll be nominating speeches. I don't know that anybody other than Donald Trump would be put in – name will be put in nomination. But after the nominating speeches, then they – in alphabetical order, they call the roll of the states. And typically, the state chairman – the leader of the state political party but sometimes another leader will announce the votes of the delegation for the various presidential candidates.

Now, if we only have one presidential candidate, that becomes a little less exciting. But as you know, in many states, delegates are required to vote for the candidate that won in their area on the first ballot. So you may see, for instance – when it comes to Ohio, you may see the Ohio delegation say, “66 votes for Governor Kasich,” because Governor Kasich won Ohio and won all 66 votes. But it’ll – the states will caucus together and make those determinations. Some states may decide we’re going to – we’re all in for Donald Trump even though he didn’t win all the delegates. So it’ll be done state by state. And when there’s a contested convention – which is rare these days because the primaries basically settle the outcome – in a contested contention (sic), these state party meetings become very, very important because that’s where the real politics occurs of how the states will vote.

So we’ll go through the roll call. Oftentimes, a state will pass because historically, that was because they hadn’t figured out what they were going to do, but these days, it’s done symbolically. So there may be a state that – say, New York may be the state that gets to officially nominate Donald Trump, so New York may delay and delay and delay until everybody else has voted, and then they’ll have the honor of putting him over the top. I don’t actually know if that’ll happen, but things like that have happened in the past.

So it’s not just the counting of the votes. There’s also symbolism that goes along with this. And there’s a long tradition of, when the states vote, they praise themselves. So a very common thing would be I speak for the great state of Ohio, where the – not only where the first airplane invented, but the first man to walk on the moon – they’ll talk about how great their state is. It’s a way to get a little bit of publicity. So that’s what’ll happen tomorrow night.

What’s interesting about this convention is the roll call is scheduled to come early in the evening, which suggests that the convention managers want to get it over with so that they can go on to speakers and things that they may find that viewers may find more interesting. To a political scientist like me, the roll call vote’s fun, but to a lot of ordinary people, “So what’s this about,” right? It’s not very interesting.

QUESTION: (Off-mike.)

MR GREEN: I don’t think that there will be any – I don’t think that Donald Trump will be prevented from getting the nomination, but it’s possible that some of the states may vote in some unusual and surprising ways because of some political point that they want to make.

QUESTION: Hi. Sorry, I have a follow-up again. This morning, Paul Manafort, the Trump campaign manager, said that Mr. Trump himself would be coming to the podium this night and introduce Mrs. Trump speaking on the first day. How unusual it is or how usual it is the candidate himself is speaking on the first night of the convention?

MR GREEN: It’s very unusual for the candidates for president to speak at any other time than Thursday. And Thursday, by tradition, is where the nominees give their acceptance speeches. And as I’m sure you all know, that’s one of the most watched times on television. Lots of Americans who are not that interested in politics will nonetheless tune in to watch the acceptance speeches of the two major party candidates. So it’s quite rare for candidates to come – to address the convention prior to their acceptance speeches.

Now, it has happened in the past. Sometimes a candidate will make a very brief appearance. Sometimes there’s some kind of political crisis where the candidate has to address that. Let me give you an example. Back in 1980, when Ronald Reagan was the Republican nominee, there was an effort to make former President Gerald Ford the vice presidential nominee, and that created a lot of confusion and a lot of controversy. And when Reagan decided to ask George Bush – George Bush I – to be his nominee, he actually went to the floor of the convention – Ronald Reagan did – and said, “I just want to clear up some confusion. I’m going to nominate George H.W. Bush,” and then he left. So there was an example of a political moment where a candidate had to go and do that.

But it’s very, very – but other than things like that, it’s very rare and these appearances tend to be very brief, because the idea historically has been to save the appearance for that important speech. So it would be very unusual if Mr. Manafort is right and Donald Trump appears before the convention this evening.

MODERATOR: Any further questions?

QUESTION: Hi, I’m Morten Bertelsen from Norway and Dagens Naeringsliv. On a related note, he is also exposing his family quite heavily at this convention. How unusual is that? And do you think it could have an impact on voters and perhaps female voters in particular?

MR GREEN: It’s not that unusual for the candidate’s family to appear at the convention, typically in a very modest role, but it does happen. The – but if you look at the schedule that’s been announced, Donald Trump’s family are taking a very prominent role – a much, much larger role than is typically played by the candidate’s families. I mean, they’re going to speak, many of them and on different topics. And one suspects that that – the primary reason that family members appear at conventions is to soften the image of the presidential nominee, right – to say this is a family person, these are their children – sort of try to humanize the candidate.

But I – and I suspect that’s part of the motivation behind the Trump family speaking, but I think there’s probably also an issue agenda. If you look at the polls, we have a very, very strong gender gap in the polls. Women are very strongly supportive of Hillary Clinton; men are very strongly supportive of Donald Trump. And if the gender gap stays symmetrical – that is to say women Democrat, men Republican – then there’s no large advantage. But if either party could make the gap non-symmetrical – for instance, if Trump could improve his standing with women, then that would certainly help him, or if Hillary Clinton could improve her standing with men.

Well, the Trump family has some very appealing and impressive women, and so there may be an issue there of trying to change voters’ opinions on those particular issues. So if you wanted a good example of where a family member played a very prominent role – not quite as prominent as the Trump family will apparently at this convention, but in 1996 when then-Senator Robert Dole was the Republican nominee, his wife Elizabeth Dole, who would later be a senator in her own right, took this – she did a kind of Oprah Winfrey thing with her microphone where she walked in front of the delegates and praised her husband. And that was an attempt to show that Bob Dole was not a mean man, to show that he was actually a very compassionate person.

So there’s an analogy, but it’s quite rare to have that degree of involvement of a family member. They usually just make a cameo appearance and that’s it.

MODERATOR: Okay. If there are no further questions, I want to thank Dr. Green. We really appreciate your coming and briefing us, and thank you all for being here. If you’d like to do a one-on-one interview, I think he’s available to do that now. Thank you.

MR GREEN: Thank you very much. (Applause.)

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