Democrats Want to Avoid Repeating Their Wisconsin Mistake

People tend to read a lot into it when our nation’s major political parties choose the site for their national conventions. It’s not always so obvious why the choice was made, but that doesn’t prevent rampant speculation. It’s not rare for a city to be chosen in a state that the party either is almost assured of winning or is very unlikely to win. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that the Democrats chose Milwaukee because they want to win Wisconsin in 2020 and they’re looking for any slight edge they can get.

The runner-up cities of Miami and Houston would have each been interesting in their own ways, but it was Wisconsin where Hillary Clinton suffered her most shocking upset, and it was her failure to campaign at all in Wisconsin that caused the most Monday morning quarterbacking of her campaign.

The Democrats retook the governorship of Wisconsin last year, and their prospects there are looking up. This time, however, no one wants of get accused of taking anything for granted.

The convention is scheduled for July, shortly before the Summer Olympics kick off in Tokyo. The media narrative has already started that this indicates a preference for reclaiming the Democrats’ historic Rust Belt advantage over embracing their multicultural future. I kind of doubt that played much of a role in the decision at all.

There are a lot of logistical considerations that go into assessing the various bids, and some are even saying that DNC Chairman Tom Perez’s links to Milwaukee played a part. His wife was raised in the suburbs and the couple was married there. But all other things being equal, winning Wisconsin is a surer bet than winning Texas, and Florida is hot in July and subject to hurricanes.

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a party really wants to avoid being accused twice in a row of ignoring a state that cost them the presidency.

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Martin Longman

Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at