This year, the Republicans chose Tampa, and the Democrats chose Charlotte. (Were those the right choices? Check out our post about housing in Charlotte vs Tampa.) But which cities usually get chosen, and why? We found some quirky facts in the historical list of convention cities, looking from 1868, just after the Civil War ended, through 2012. Over these years, the two major political parties have held 74 presidential nominating conventions – 37 for the Democrats and 37 for the Republicans.
- Chicago was the most popular convention city – until the violence. Between 1868 and 1968, Chicago hosted 22 of the two parties’ 52 conventions (that’s 42%). Then, in 1968, a year of urban riots across the country, the Democratic convention in Chicago in 1968 succumbed to demonstrations and violence. After that, Chicago has hosted just 1 of 22 conventions.
- Boston has hosted only one convention, ever. Boston is one of the two great cities of American history – it’s the home of the (first) Tea Party, Paul Revere, and all that. But only one convention has ever taken place in Boston, and only recently: in 2004, when the Democrats nominated John Kerry. The other great city of American history, Philadelphia, has done much better, hosting 7 conventions.
- Democrats came long before the Republicans did to California and Texas. The first California convention was the 1920 Democratic convention, in San Francisco; the Republicans didn’t come to California until 1956, also in San Francisco. The first Texas convention was the 1928 Democratic convention in Houston; the Republicans didn’t meet in Texas until 1984, in Dallas. The Republicans beat the Democrats to Florida, but barely: the Republican convention in 1968 was in Miami Beach, where the Democrats met in 1972.
- Recently, New York conventions have produced winners, but California nominees have lost. Three of the last four candidates nominated in New York City went on to win the Presidency: Carter in 1976, Clinton in 1992, and Bush in 2004; only Carter in 1980 lost. But the last four candidates nominated in California all lost: Gore in 2000 (Los Angeles), Dole in 1996 (San Diego), Mondale in 1984 (San Francisco), and Goldwater in 1964 (San Francisco).
- Washington DC is the biggest metro never to play host. Washington: the city that rises above political partisanship! Are you kicking yourself for not guessing this? Me too. Neither the Democrats or Republicans have ever met there to nominate a Presidential candidate, though the Libertarian Party held its conventions there six times from 1976 to 1996. Aside from Washington DC – which is always a special case when it comes to politics — the most populous metro areas never to host a Democratic or Republican convention are Riverside-San Bernardino (the area east of Los Angeles, known locally as the Inland Empire), Phoenix, and Seattle. Looks like it’s the West’s turn in 2016.