Regardless of Where the Convention Lands, It Won’t Affect the Vote
Jimm Phillips reports that the DNC has chosen the four finalist cities for the 2012 Democratic National Convention, and notes that three of the four cities reside in swing states:
It’s clear why Charlotte and St. Louis are in the list — North Carolina and Missouri were the two states with the closest margins of victory in the 2008 presidential election. John McCain won Missouri by .14 percent — 3,903 votes. Obama won North Carolina by .32 percent — 14,177 votes.
Ohio was also close, though not to the same degree as Missouri and North Carolina. Obama took the Buckeye State by 4.59 percent — 262,224 votes. Still, Cleveland’s pick as a finalist shows the DNC wants to do everything it can to keep Ohio in the Democratic column. Most unofficial studies indicate Ohio will have two fewer electoral votes in 2012 than it did in 2008 — down to 18.
Obviously, the DNC is hoping it can affect the outcome of the election by holding a convention in one of these states. Unfortunately, there’s little evidence suggesting any relationship between convention site and the state’s eventual vote. Indeed, after examining from several decades’ worth of conventions and elections, Michael Berry and Kenneth Bickers — political scientists at the University of Colorado, Denver, and Boulder — found “no evidence that hosting a national nominating convention has any discernible effect on the ultimate vote in that state.” Any perceived bump (or loss) is best explained by the fundamentals in each state: underlying partisanship of the state, incumbency and economic factors.
That’s not to say that conventions can’t have other political uses — President Obama began his career with a convention speech — but that party officials shouldn’t rely on electoral calculations when deciding where to hold their conventions. It simply doesn’t matter.