We’ll be reporting from Cleveland all week and live-blogging each night. Check out all our dispatches from the GOP convention here.
CLEVELAND — The mood here in Cleveland is a little bleak. The city still has its share of vibrant neighborhoods, but it can feel awfully empty. The city accommodated a population of more than 900,000 in 1930, but Cleveland has fewer than 400,000 residents today. (Imagine if more than half the people in your town just vanished.) Then there’s the convention, and the security presence it brings, with downtown bisected by a maze of fences and patrolled by a phalanx of police, sheriffs and Secret Service personnel. Conventions don’t have the party atmosphere of major sporting events or ticker-tape parades; they’re stiffly staged, anxiety-inducing events, and most locals are staying away.
Donald Trump’s campaign, of course, has also struck a foreboding tone. It’s typical for the opposition party to dramatize the country’s problems, as a critique of the incumbent president’s performance. But not since Richard Nixon has a major-party candidate so explicitly run on a law-and-order theme, or so determinedly argued that the world is spinning out of control.
Polls suggest that many Americans agree with Trump: About 70 percent of them say the country is on the wrong track, and the percentage has gradually climbed this year. There’s also some contradictory evidence. A plurality of Americans say they’re better off personally than they were eight years ago, for instance, and President Obama’s approval ratings are decent, the highest they’ve been since after his re-election in late 2012.1 But put those doubts aside for a moment and assume that most Americans really do agree with Trump’s diagnosis of the problem and that they’re anxious in a …