Dem 51
image description
GOP 49
image description

Sweet Home Chicago

When and if Joe Biden claims the 2024 Democratic nomination, he'll make it official in Chicago. Yesterday, the Democratic Party announced that the Windy City has been chosen as the site of its 2024 convention, beating out the other two finalists, New York City and Atlanta.

The Democrats have a fondness for that city when it comes to conventions. In fact, 2024 will make it an even dozen. Here's the full list (candidates who went on to win are in bold):

Year Nominee
1864 George McClellan
1884 Grover Cleveland
1892 Grover Cleveland
1896 William Jennings Bryan
1932 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
1940 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
1944 Franklin Delano Roosevelt
1952 Adlai Stevenson
1956 Adlai Stevenson
1968 Humbert Humphrey
1996 Bill Clinton
2024 Joe Biden?

As you can see, the blue team is 6-5 thus far with Chicago launches.

While a dozen conventions is quite a large number, however, the Democrats' affinity is actually outdistanced by the Republicans' love for Chicago conventions:

Year Nominee
1860 Abraham Lincoln
1868 Ulysses S. Grant
1880 James A. Garfield
1884 James G. Blaine
1888 Benjamin Harrison
1904 Theodore Roosevelt
1908 William Howard Taft
1912 William Howard Taft
1916 Charles Evans Hughes
1920 Warren G. Harding
1932 Herbert Hoover
1944 Thomas E. Dewey
1952 Dwight D. Eisenhower
1960 Richard Nixon

That's 14 Chicago conventions for the GOP in total, thanks in large part to a remarkable five in a row in the early 20th century. The red team, as you can see, is 8-6 when launching from the city, though they haven't been there in more than 60 years. Overall, Chicago will have hosted 26 conventions in the 190 or so years that parties have been holding conventions. That means the city averages one convention roughly every other presidential cycle.

The lesson from this exercise is this: It's all good and well to hold conventions in a swing state (or a swing city), but the benefits are negligible at best. It's much more important to hold them in a city well suited to hosting a successful convention. Chicago has two major airports, plenty of hotel rooms, and plenty of the other amenities needed to accommodate 100,000 or so politicians, delegates, alternate delegates, reporters, alternate reporters, lobbyists, alternate lobbyists, activists, alternate activists, bloggers, alternate bloggers, vendors, alternate vendors, prostitutes, and alternate prostitutes. On top of that, it's pretty much in the center of the country, travel-wise. Delegates from, say, Los Angeles are going to be much more chipper if they don't have to get up at 3:00 a.m. and then endure a 6-hour flight on the first day of the convention.

The Republicans, having reached a similar conclusion, will hold their 2024 convention in Milwaukee. That's nominally a more swingy location than Illinois, but not really. First, it sure looks like Wisconsin is lost to the GOP (a.k.a. the anti-abortion party) for a while. Second, to the extent that conventions have an effect on voting patterns, it's local. And Milwaukee hasn't elected a Republican mayor since before the World War. And by that, we mean... the First World War. A hat tip to Gerhard A. Bading, who was actually a Republican-Democratic fusion candidate (to beat the Socialist Party), serving from 1912-16. (Z)

This item appeared on Read it Monday through Friday for political and election news, Saturday for answers to reader's questions, and Sunday for letters from readers.                     State polls                     All Senate candidates