RNC Cleveland arena sign

A new BW CRI poll shows growing optimism about the potential for the RNC to change the narrative about Cleveland, but security worries remain.

Northeast Ohio Optimism for RNC Impact Grows, Protest Worries Persist

May 5, 2016

Benefits of Hosting the RNCIn spite of concerns about potential protests and security around this summer’s Republican National Convention (RNC) in Cleveland, a Baldwin Wallace (BW) University survey finds that Northeast Ohioans are growing more optimistic that the RNC will boost the region’s economy and bolster perceptions of Cleveland.

“There is an expanding view that the RNC presents an opportunity to change the narrative about Cleveland, but many people continue to worry that protests may steal the spotlight,” said Lauren Copeland, Ph.D., associate director of BW’s Community Research Institute (CRI).

In back-to-back CRI surveys, respondents in the seven-county Greater Cleveland region increasingly noted the benefits of hosting the convention, with 84% polled in late April saying they expect to see a boost to the economy (up from 68% in March) and 59% anticipating an improvement in perceptions of Cleveland (up from 44% in March).


Protest Anxiety

With front-runner Donald Trump’s remaining opponents bowing out of the Republican presidential race this week, a contested convention is no longer a likely scenario. Still, a slim majority (51%) of respondents in the BW poll worry that protests will become the focus of attention at the convention, with one in five “extremely concerned” that protests, or even violence, will spoil Cleveland’s day in the sun.

“Even without a brokered convention, the RNC is still likely to attract anti-Trump protests,” said Tom Sutton, Ph.D., director of BW CRI. “Given that we saw some clashes during the primary season, that anxiety is understandable.”

Security Concerns and Capability

RNC Cleveland arena signThree-quarters of Northeast Ohioans continue to cite security as the top priority for the City of Cleveland as it prepares to host the convention in July. At the same time, a majority of residents are very or somewhat confident in the ability of the Cleveland Division of Police to ensure safety around the event, with just 17% saying they are “not at all confident.” 

Peaceful or not, more than half of Northeast Ohio residents plan to steer clear of the downtown area during the convention, with 53% saying they will spend less time in the city during the RNC.

Regional BW-CRI Poll Details

The study of 527 adults in Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain, Medina, Portage, and Summit counties was conducted between April 21 – May 3, 2016 using online panel data with quotas in place for gender and age (margin of error +/- 4 percentage points).  

Top line report of the latest BW CRI poll is available upon request and will be linked here later today.

About the Baldwin Wallace University Community Research Institute (CRI)

Founded in 2005 at Baldwin Wallace University (BW) in Berea, Ohio, the CRI conducts regional, statewide, and national surveys for government agencies, nonprofits, foundations, community-based organizations, businesses, and the media.  CRI also offers BW students opportunities for mentored experience in social science research. Visit www.bw.edu/centers/community-research-institute.