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What Went Down On Day One Of The Republican Convention

Filed under 2016 Election

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Micah Cohen 11:46 PM Goodnight; Good Morning!

That’s it from us tonight, folks. If you stuck with us through it all, thank you. (We’ll meet you back here Tuesday night for another live blog.) If you’re reading this Tuesday morning and want to experience the night’s speeches chronologically, just start at the bottom of the live blog and scroll up. Or, here are a few highlights:

Julia Azari 11:27 PM

Like the rest of this campaign, Day 1 seemed to me to have an unscripted quality that defies what we’ve come to expect from recent conventions. There is genuine animosity within the party. And as I mentioned earlier, some of the non-politician speeches were a bit of a departure from the typical script.

In terms of pure stagecraft, the evening has had kind of an unclear progression, with Melania apparently rescheduled for a prime-time slot instead of closing up the evening. There have been a few transitions from Benghazi to immigration to terrorism, without an obvious build-up toward a finale for the evening.

I already wrote about governance, but the other apparent theme of the evening was to have members of various minority communities speak overtly to racial themes – to say things like “blue lives matter,” to accuse the president of racial division, and to address immigration. Tonight’s speakers pressed harder on these themes than any previous convention I can remember.

Finally, Clinton isn’t a typical presidential nominee. She’s the first woman on a major ticket, she’s a deeply controversial figure in her own right, and she’s been involved in high levels of government for many years. With chants of “lock her up,” we may have gotten a preview of what the upcoming campaign will look like.

Micah Cohen 11:26 PM

Julia, we’re reaching the end of Day 1 of the 2016 RNC — how does it compare so far to past conventions? Has Trump broken the mold? Tinkered on the margins?

Harry Enten 11:23 PM

It’s kind of stunning that Ernst was forced past prime time. She is a rising star in Republican politics and is from the key swing state of Iowa, which Clinton leads by only a single percentage point in the FiveThirtyEight polls-only forecast. I expect I’m not going to be the only one questioning the decision not to showcase Ernst earlier in the evening.

Twitter 11:21 PM

Farai Chideya 11:21 PM

The kickoff of tonight’s GOP convention was very different from 2012 in one unequivocal way: in 2012, Monday night’s programming was cancelled because of Tropical Storm Isaac. In addition to holding up the arrival of delegates, the storm forced speakers to be cancelled or shoehorned into other days of the week. Some might argue tonight had its own storms — gusts of harsh rhetoric and certainly some windy speeches. But overall, it was a night that seemed to do what Trump wanted it to do: focus attention on him.

Micah Cohen 11:18 PM

Nate, you’re crazy if you think Flynn’s “war is not about bathrooms” line won’t be remembered for centuries.

Nate Silver 11:17 PM

To get a little inside-baseball here: one thing that makes it tough to cover the conventions is that our political staff isn’t experiencing them the way most Americans do. We’re watching every speech — some of us on C-SPAN, and some of us live from the convention hall.

Most people around the country, however, are seeing bits and pieces instead, halfway paying attention, and the networks are sometimes cutting away from the speeches to promote their talking heads. So maybe Michael Flynn’s speech wasn’t very good, but how many people saw it? Was it bad enough that people are going to be talking about it tomorrow? My guess is that they’ll remember a poised Melania, an angry Rudy, Trump coming out to “We Are The Champions,” and not a whole lot else.

Twitter 11:10 PM

Harry Enten 11:05 PM

If I were grading tonight’s speeches, I’d rate Flynn’s speech as the worst, and Melania Trump’s as the best. Which is why I can’t believe the convention night didn’t close with her.

Twitter 11:05 PM

Carl Bialik 10:59 PM

Many of the speakers tonight have said the world doesn’t respect the U.S.

Pew doesn’t ask exactly this in its global polls, but a majority of residents in most countries surveyed have a favorable view of the U.S. and confidence in the U.S. president — and both indicators are doing better in most countries than they were in the last year of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Nate Silver 10:56 PM

Well, Micah, it’s pretty obvious, isn’t it? A very heavy dose of cultural resentment, being willing to go to a very dark place, leavened by occasional touches of humanity. No pretense of policy substance — he’s not appealing to the rational parts of people’s brains, and he’s proud of it. How it all adds up, I don’t really know — I’m not the intended audience for these speeches.

Micah Cohen 10:55 PM

Anyone want to take a stab at reverse-engineering the Trump campaign’s strategy based on the speeches tonight?

Harry Enten 10:55 PM

Mike Flynn was thought to be a finalist on Trump’s vice presidential list. He then bombed an interview with ABC News. I’m not sure this speech does much to convince anyone that his previous performance was an outlier.

Harry Enten 10:47 PM

Melania Trump’s speech seemed pretty short to me. Indeed, she finished about 20 minutes before prime time ends in the Eastern time zone. That means that Americans who are watching on the major networks are now left to watch speakers most of them have never heard of (like Michael Flynn) for the final 20 minutes before the local news starts.

Nate Silver 10:46 PM

I’m disappointed it’s not Newt Gingrich! Which would have been fun. But I wonder if Flynn blew his chance — if his rollout had gone a little better, the tumultuous events of the past few weeks might have made him seem like a good choice, in Trump’s mind.

Micah Cohen 10:45 PM

Nate, are you disappointed Michael Flynn isn’t on the ticket?

Nate Silver 10:43 PM

Based on Google searches, it is — as usual — the Trump show. Melania and Donald Trump are generating far more search traffic than any of the other speakers tonight.

Jody Avirgan 10:42 PM

My hottish take of the night: the normalization process of the Trump campaign is well underway. This felt like a very conventional night — even the rocky parts, which are standard fare (and which the networks cut away from anyway). Several of the speeches were standard GOP fare. The evening felt like a day’s worth of Fox News programming spread out over a series of speeches. Some of the speeches felt like they’d been copied and pasted from the 2012 convention. That also means this night was very generic. It remains to be seen what happens as Trump becomes more of and more of a presence as the event goes on, but for now it feels like the RNC’s agenda of smoothing the rough edges is working.

Farai Chideya 10:39 PM

Michelle Obama was once Barack Obama’s mentor at work. Cindy McCain is a businesswoman and philanthropist. And of course Hillary Clinton was a lawyer before she was a first lady and now a presidential candidate.

Melania Trump spent years as a model and has gone on to sell her own line of products on the shopping channel QVC. If Trump wins, she will be the first first lady born outside of the United States since the nation’s earliest days, and the only one for whom English is not a first language.

10:37 PM

What is the candidate’s spouse supposed to do in a speech? The obvious job is to introduce the presidential candidate – in case you’ve missed the Trump coverage thus far. The less obvious component is that the spouses have to reveal a little tension – to show how they are different from their spouses. This is subtle and easily dismissed as fluff, but there’s some research to suggest that it relates to the representation role that first spouses play. In “The Politics of the President’s Wife,” Connecticut College political scientist MaryAnn Borrelli looks at how first ladies convey ideas about American values and identity, direct attention to policy issues, and engage with the public.

This happens with varying degrees of success, and part of the first spouse role requires complementing the president’s message while also offering something distinct. In the convention speech, these themes are often depicted through biography. In 2012, Ann Romney spoke about being a young mother of small children while her husband went to school. Michelle Obama, in 2008, talked about her parents’ story. Melania Trump has a story that’s unusual for a first lady, and she’s addressed the fact that she’s an immigrant and naturalized citizen already.

So far, though, this speech has deviated a bit from that script – she’s talking about him and what the country needs, but so far we’re not getting this little glimpse of their lives together – let’s see if that changes later in the campaign.

Harry Enten 10:34 PM

Melania Trump just made reference to Bob Dole, who was standing with Mike Pence. Dole is the only living previous Republican nominee for president attending this convention. He is only one of two previous nominees who have endorsed Trump.

10:33 PM

Trump said his wife, Melania, would be the next first lady of the U.S. That could still technically be true if Trump loses this presidential election but wins a future one, because Clinton’s husband, Bill, won’t be first lady. What will he be? “First dude, first mate, first gentleman — I’m just not sure about it,” Hillary Clinton told Jimmy Kimmel last November.

Nate Silver 10:31 PM

There are always questions on nights like these about whether the convention is going too late — Melania Trump began her remarks at about 10:23 Eastern time. But American TV viewing takes place later in the evening than you might think — especially considering that a lot of Americans don’t live in the Eastern time zone. Based on the American Time Use Survey, the number of TV viewers nationwide peaks at the 9 p.m. Eastern hour, but 10 p.m. Eastern is the second-best for viewership, and 11 p.m. Eastern is better than 7 p.m. Eastern.

TV VIEWERS IN MILLIONS
HOUR IN EASTERN TIME ZONE EASTERN CENTRAL MOUNTAIN PACIFIC* TOTAL
6 AM 2.7 1.1 0.1 0.4 4.4
7 AM 4.7 1.7 0.3 0.4 7.0
8 AM 6.5 2.9 0.4 0.7 10.4
9 AM 8.6 4.0 0.7 1.0 14.2
10 AM 10.4 5.3 0.9 1.7 18.2
11 AM 12.2 6.4 1.2 2.3 22.1
Noon 12.0 7.5 1.5 3.1 24.0
1 PM 14.0 7.4 1.7 3.7 26.8
2 PM 15.8 8.6 1.7 4.4 30.5
3 PM 17.3 9.7 2.0 4.4 33.3
4 PM 20.1 10.6 2.2 5.1 38.1
5 PM 22.4 12.4 2.5 5.7 43.0
6 PM 27.2 13.8 2.9 6.3 50.1
7 PM 38.0 16.7 3.2 7.3 65.2
8 PM 50.5 23.4 3.9 8.1 85.8
9 PM 52.7 31.1 5.4 9.8 99.0
10 PM 38.9 32.5 7.2 13.7 92.2
11 PM 19.1 24.0 7.5 18.1 68.7
Midnight 7.4 11.7 5.5 19.0 43.7
1 AM 3.5 4.5 2.7 14.3 25.0
2 AM 1.8 2.1 1.0 7.3 12.3
3 AM 1.1 1.1 0.5 3.1 5.8
4 AM 1.1 0.6 0.3 1.6 3.5
5 AM 1.8 0.6 0.1 0.8 3.4
When Americans are watching television

* Pacific includes Alaska and Hawaii

Source: American Time Use Survey

Galen Druke 10:29 PM

It’s hard to forget Ann Romney’s pitch to women voters in her speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention, exclaiming, “I love you women!” It was taken at the time as an overly direct response to Mitt Romney’s lagging numbers with women.

At about that point in the race, President Obama was doing 22 percentage points better among women than Romney. Obama went on to win among women that November by 20 points.

According to polling from ABC News/Washington Post last month, Trump’s negative ratings among women are at 77 percent, 20 points higher than Romney received at any point in 2012. In recent polling, Clinton leads Trump among women by 15 percentage points.

Carl Bialik 10:25 PM

Last month, Queen’s Brian May denounced Trump’s use of the band’s “We Are The Champions.” That didn’t stop Trump from coming out to that song in a dramatic appearance to introduce his wife, Melania, who walked out as the song picked up again.

Twitter 10:25 PM

Twitter 10:23 PM

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