Over the Memorial Day weekend, President Donald Trump expressed his dismay with North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper, a Democrat, and the state’s anti-COVID-19 restrictions. Trump threatened to move the Republican National Convention from Charlotte to somewhere else.
Where might President Trump push the GOP to move the party’s convention? To determine this, the Republicans need to consider whether the state has a Republican Governor willing to waive lockdowns designed to stop the coronavirus, whether the polls are tight enough for Donald Trump that he might need to host to the convention in that state to carry it, and whether the city has the experience needed to host the convention, by having done so before.
Houston appears to be the front-runner for the big prize. It has a Republican Governor, Greg Abbott, who seems willing to push hard for his state to reopen. The city hosted the 1992 RNC Convention, so they know how to do it. And Texas is more of a swing state than it used to be.
While John McCain and Mitt Romney won the state by double-digits, Trump only won it by nine points. According to RealClearPolitics, Trump is only sporting a 2.5 percentage point lead over Joe Biden in April and May surveys, and Republicans can’t win in 2020 without taking Texas. Dallas, which hosted the 1984 GOP Convention, should also be consideration.
Florida Republicans are making a play for the 2020 RNC Convention, according to the Miami Herald. GOP Governor Ron DeSantis is a Trump fan, and the state had a history of hosting Miami conventions in 1968 and 1972. But Trump’s next set of tweets downplayed Miami as a host site. Tampa hosted the 2012 RNC Convention, so that might be a better bet. And Trump trails Biden by 3.3 points in RealClearPolitics average polls, facing a six-point deficit in a Florida Atlantic University poll this month.
Atlanta is an intriguing possibility. Georgia Governor Brian Kemp would probably do what the GOP wants to host their convention. Atlanta held the 1988 DNC Convention. And in 270toWin’s set of polls, Biden leads Trump 46.3 percent-46 percent in the average. Savannah, Nashville, Birmingham, and Jacksonville might be intriguing sites, but none have hosted such a convention.
Trump is also struggling in Ohio and Cleveland was the host city for the RNC in 2016, but GOP Governor Michael DeWine is taking stronger precautions against the Coronavirus. New Orleans played host to the RNC Meeting in 1988, but the presence of a Democratic Governor, and the level at which the pandemic hit New Orleans may not work for the Republicans.
Besides, Trump is likely to keep Louisiana in the fold. Minneapolis/St. Paul hosted the 2008 Convention, and Trump only trails Biden by five points in the blue state of Minnesota, but there’s a popular Democratic Governor (65 percent approval rating), and Trump failed to carry the state in 2016.
The Republicans met in Philadelphia and New York City in 2000 and 2004, but both have Democratic Governors. Trump is out of the picture in New York, but trails Biden in Pennsylvania by 6.5 points in RealClearPolitics, and will want to win that state back. Detroit hosted the RNC Convention in 1980, but a Democratic Governor makes this less likely. Trump only trails Biden by 5.5 percentage points in a state where he pulled an upset four years ago.
In conclusion, Houston looks like the best bet for Plan B, followed by Atlanta, Tampa and Dallas. Trump badly needs to take Texas, Georgia and Florida to have a shot at winning this year. But maybe the President needs to be flexible with the Governor Cooper in North Carolina. He only leads the Tar Heel State by a percentage point in RealClearPolitics’ survey average.