Tampa is basically a perfect place for a major party’s national convention — except for the weather, of course.
Republican Party officials knew that there was always the threat of a hurricane during an August convention on the West Coast of Florida. It rolled the dice and came up snake-eyes.
But apart from the threat of severe weather — which we should emphasize was pretty small — and the already-tough-to-handle heat, Tampa made a whole lot of sense as a host city.
Tampa was picked from among three finalists; the others were Salt Lake City and Phoenix. Unlike those two sites, Tampa comes from an electorally important state — a key reason it emerged as the victor.
While the two parties picked host cities for their conventions in non-competitive states in 2004 (New York and Boston), the selections in 2008 and 2012 trended toward swing states.
Republicans held their convention in St. Paul in 2008, while Democrats went to Denver. This year, Democrats opted for Charlotte, N.C., while Republicans picked Tampa. Colorado, North Carolina and Florida are all bona fide swing states, while Minnesota generally leans slightly Democratic.
Tampa was officially selected in May, 2010. But ever since, there has been a slight undercurrent of consternation about the possibility of a hurricane marring the festivities.
The Tampa Bay Times even wrote a story in May broaching the possibility of such a situation ruining the event. The story noted that the odds of a hurricane hitting the city during the convention were less than 1 percent.
Those odds were apparently just bad enough.
1) a hurricane still isn't hitting Tampa. You don't need a direct hit, and be a hurricane, to cause convention disruption
2) a major hurricane hitting elsewhere, say Gustav in 2008 or potentially Issac in 2012, can also disrupt a convention
There have been some thoughts that the only way around this problem is to hold conventions in July. You'd have to get agreements from both parties to do that - otherwise they'll start playing leapfrog with the dates and we'll be back in late August again.