The 2020 presidential race has already begun, which means it will soon be time for two more presidential nominating conventions: the Democratic National Convention and the Republican National Convention. During the conventions, which are hosted in various places across the country, the two major political parties select a candidate for President of the United States. Throughout history, nominating conventions have taken place in 19 different states, 27 different cities, and over different 60 buildings. Find out which cities and buildings have hosted multiple conventions and which states have yet to host even one convention when you continue reading about the presidential nominating convention locations since 1832.
View Presidential Nominating Conventions in a full screen map
As the map above notes, presidential nominating conventions can take place as early as April and as late as Septemeber, though the majority take place in June. These conventions can last anywhere from three to five days. More important than the dates, though, the map shows the locations of every major presidential nominating convention since 1832 and the trends that come with the data.
The following five cities have hosted more nominating conventions than any other city in the U.S.:
- New York City
- St. Louis
Chicago, Illinois has been the destination of 25 presidential nominating conventions. Eleven of those conventions were for the Democratic party while 14 were for Republicans. Baltimore, Maryland is the city that has seen the second-most presidential nominating conventions (10), nine of which were for the blue party. Philadelphia has hosted nine presidential nominating conventions, six of which were for the Republican party. New Yorkers have been privy to six conventions in their city, the majority of which (five) were for the Democrats.
St. Louis, Missouri has seen five total conventions, four being for Republicans. Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, and Miami Beach have also hosted their fair share of conventions: three each. A slew of other cities have done so twice. In total, the Democrats’ 49 presidential nominating conventions since 1832 have only taken place in 18 different cities. For all of the Republicans’ 42 nominating conventions, they’ve only visited 19 distinct cities.
There have been several election cycles where the Dems and the Republicans held their conventions in the same city, or even, the same building (on different dates, of course). This political feat first occurred in preparation for the 1884 election. June 3-6 Republicans met at the Exposition Hall located in Chicago. July 8–11 that same year, Democrats got together at the Interstate Exposition Building, also in Chicago.
Then came the election of 1932: the year the two major parties decided to save some money by putting down a deposit on the same space. On June 14th, 1932, Republicans got together at the Chicago Stadium to nominate their candidate. On June 27th that same year, Democrats gathered at the same Chicago Stadium for their convention. It happened again in 1944 when the two major parties once again held their nominating conventions at the Chicago Stadium. The two parties seemed to enjoy being in the same space months apart as in the next election (1948), they both held their conventions at Philadelphia’s Convention Hall. It happened again during the next election of 1952 at the International Amphitheater in Chicago. The last time Democrats and Republicans held their conventions in the same space was in 1972 when both parties met at the Miami Beach Convention Center for their respective conventions, one in early July and one in late August.
While 25 nominating conventions took place in Chicago, they didn’t all occur in the same space. The Windy City hosted conventions at ten different buildings, with the Chicago Coliseum hosting most frequently.
The Chicago Coliseum is one of only two buildings in the U.S. to host six presidential nominating conventions. Chicago’s International Amphitheatre and the Chicago Stadium, both no longer standing, hosted five conventions. Wigwam, the Interstate Exposition Building, The Amphitheatre, Crosby’s Opera House, Exposition Hall, Auditorium Theatre, and the United Center also hosted conventions in Chicago. The other #1 building that has hosted the most conventions is the aptly named Convention Hall located in Philadelphia, which, like the Chicago Coliseum, has hosted six conventions.
Then there are the buildings each major party prefers. For example, Democrats have held their nominating conventions most often at Madison Square Garden (four times). The blue party also gravitates towards Philadelphia’s Convention Hall as they’ve gathered there three times, along with the Chicago Stadium and Chicago’s International Amphitheatre. Other than these four locations, Democrats don’t tend to host their conventions in the same buildings multiple times. Thirty-six buildings have only held Democratic conventions one time.
Republicans, on the other hand, are more likely to repeatedly hold their nominating conventions in the same buildings. They’ve set up shop most often at the Chicago Coliseum (five times), had three conventions at Philadelphia’s Convention Hall, and have been to each of the following twice: Exposition Hall, Public Auditorium, Chicago Stadium, International Amphitheatre, Cow Palace, and the Miami Beach Convention Center.
The 2020 presidential nominating convention locations have already been selected. For the first time, Democrats will venture to Milwaukie, Wisconsin while Republicans will gather in Charlotte, North Carolina for the second time in history. Even modern-day conventions are following a trend that began in 1832: most nominating conventions take place in the Eastern U.S.
This trend is different from the many instances the West has taken the cake, like the most extreme high and low temperatures in the U.S., and the NBA finals wins per team and opportunity. The one thing Democrats and Republicans seem to have in common is that they tend to miss the entire west side of the nation when picking convention locations.
Aside from California and Colorado, there are no other Western states that have hosted a nominating convention. So, to help out future presidential nominating convention planners, we made a list of the 31 states that have yet to see a convention, most of which are in the West:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Home State Conventions
If you found yourself wondering if any presidential or vice-presidential candidate had their nominating convention in their home state, we have the answer. Since 1832, only five presidential candidates were nominated at a convention that took place in their home state. These candidates were Abraham Lincoln of Illinois, Horatio Seymour of New York, Rutherford B. Hayes of Ohio, John W. Davis of New York, and George H. W. Bush of Texas.
Occurring even less are the four V.P.’s who were chosen as possible second-in-command in their home state. These candidates were John A. Logan of Illinois, Adlai Stevenson I of Illinois, and George H. W. Bush of Texas when he was nominated to be Vice President.
Now you know all the cities and buildings that have held major party presidential nominating conventions since 1832. Plus, you’re aware of where Democrats and Republicans could and should go next. While we wait to see where future conventions will take place, check out our other president-related maps like the many international travels of U.S. presidents or presidential assassination attempts mapped and the births and burials of U.S. presidents.