What would be a successful GOP convention for Donald Trump/Mike Pence ticket, what kind of message Trump needs from the convention to boost his campaign? Read few comments.
Steven Greene, Associate Professor of Political Science, North Carolina State University
A successful convention for Trump is one where he can come across as a far more conventional candidate. The fundamentals of this race– incumbent party seeking third term, modest economic growth, modestly popular president– all suggest a very close race. Donald Trump’s uniqueness as a candidate seems to be holding the Republican Party back more than anything. Sure, he won the primaries by being a very unconventional politician. But to win the general, he needs to comport much more with what voters expect out of a president. His bizarre, amazingly self-centered introduction of Mike Pence, his VP candidate, suggests however, that this is not getting through to Trump. Could be a very interesting convention. What he really needs is boring.
John Pitney, Professor of Politics, Claremont McKenna College
The convention will probably excite Republican partisans. But to win, Trump needs to convince some independent voters that he is fit to be president. It is hard to do both things at the same time. The very things that stir up his crowds — the insults, the wild charges, the hints of violence — are exactly what have convinced so many people that he should not command nuclear weapons.
Gil Troy, Professor of History, McGill University
Donald Trump has a delicate balancing act ahead of him – in the convention and in the general campaign. He has to keep his core supporters inflamed and entertained, but he also has to start earning some credibility, to start acting like a grownup, at least partially. Tens of millions of people will probably watch his acceptance speech and he has to show them that he is ready to lead, that his presidency if he wins will not just be bluff and bluster, but will have some maturity and gravitas. He will be standing where Lincoln and Grant stood, where Eisenhower and Reagan stood, he has to show some reverence, some respect, some appreciation for the seriousness of the job he is remarkably close to winning.
Steffen Schmidt, University Professor of Political Science, Iowa State University
1. The Trump people cannot appear to be strong or it will open a discussion about divisions in the Party.
2. The convention has to be a great show. If it’s boring and not entertaining and “HUUUUGE” it will seem like Trump had lost his glitz. His success has been the unexpected and the media grabbing. He has to do the same at this convention.
3. The groups that have most rejected Trump – the Tea Party and traditionalist Republicans (establishment) need to come away happy or at least not even more worried about Trump.
4. Independents need to say in polls afterwards that they feel comfortable voting for Trump.
But he’s only 4 points behind Clinton so I doubt if he’s very worried.
Robert Busby, Senior Lecturer in Politics, Liverpool Hope University
Political pundits have been waiting for the Republican convention in Cleveland for some time. It was supposed to be the time when a challenger from within the Republican party stepped forward to ‘#stopTrump’ and return the Republican party back to its traditional party core. That of course did not happen. The convention is now Trump’s to highlight his potential political strengths, or compound the political carnage he has inflicted on the party. A few things of note should come from the convention. There will be a party platform to write, and its tone should show how much Trump has managed to infiltrate to the heart of the party. Will it advocate free trade or some form of protectionism, will it mention ‘the Wall’, and how socially conservative will it be? This will, in part, show how much the party is fighting back against Trump’s success in the primaries. Trump has already picked his Vice President and so has removed the conjecture there. He should expect a poll bounce, but as he is so well known it is unlikely that that will be pronounced, as it is unlikely that there are many wavering voters given the political choices available.
Trump’s speeches at the convention will be interesting. Across the primary campaign they have generally been unscripted, highly repetitive and quite narrow in their focus. At the convention he may well follow the same path, but will leave himself open to attack on the general vague nature of both what he intends to do, and how he would create a policy base of political support to do it. A tele-prompted address might well take away from the energy of his delivery, but would allow a more statesmanlike appeal, and might allow him to present more detailed material across a broader platform.
Above all the issue that might earmark Cleveland is protest. The Democrat convention in 1968 in Chicago was memorable for the violence which surrounded it and in large part cast doubt on the credibility of the Democrats that year, who eventually lost to Nixon. Protests might do two things. They might draw attention to Trump’s law and order messages and serve to show why it might be beneficial to vote for him. The other concern however is that the message of the convention, and Trump’s political positions, are simply overshadowed by police issues, violence and the maintenance of security in the city. As with virtually every political episode so far involving Trump the campaign lurches from one unpredictable event to another.
Richard Benedetto, Adjunct Professor of Journalism, School of Communication, American University
The key to a successful convention for Donald Trump first is that there is good order and no real outside disruptions that could mar the media coverage of the convention itself. Second, he has to convince a skeptical news media and a wary public that he can project a presidential image that is less bombastic than the one he is known for now, and that the party is united behind him these are difficult orders for many reasons, not the least of which are the unrest in the country and the world, the obvious splits in the Republican ranks and a news media addicted to conflict. You can see from coverage going into the convention, the news media are looking for fireworks.
Eric Ostermeier, Research Associate, Center for the Study of Politics and Governance, University of Minnesota
A successful convention will be one in which Donald Trump both continues to inspire the allegiance of his anti-establishment supporters who backed him in the primaries (for his outsider status, plain-spoken policies, and anti-political correctness rhetoric) while at the same time giving the appearances that he has consolidated support among the Republican Party establishment. It will be nearly impossible, however, to give the impression he has completely unified the party with dozens of high profile establishment Republicans refusing to attend the convention (and many of these not yet endorsing Trump).
To appeal to his supporters, Trump needs to present messaging in his convention speech that conveys the need for a strong leader to lead a strong nation – that he can bring stability to a world (e.g. terrorism) and country (e.g. crime and racial unrest) that at the moment seems out of control. Trump can deliver this theme by highlighting his policies related to the military, law enforcement, and immigration. Trump would also be wise to continue to speak about the ‘corrupt political system’ from which he will undoubtedly launch further attacks against his opponent, Hillary Clinton. Such rhetoric will greatly please the convention crowd.
However, in the end, a successful convention will be measured in the media by the polls and whether or not Trump receives a post-convention “bounce” in support. While polling frequently can be quite fluid throughout the summer as each party holds their national convention, if the Trump campaign gets no bounce he will undoubtedly receive significant negative coverage by the media.