You have to admit that this is a pretty effective pitch — unless you’re pitching it to the “Russians stole the election” crowd. And unfortunately for Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett, that’s exactly the crowd to whom he’s pitching his city for the 2020 Democratic convention:
Milwaukee’s pitch to host the party’s convention in 2020 is predicated on laying out the political benefits of holding the event in Wisconsin, the state that slipped through the Democrats’ fingers in 2016 and unexpectedly voted for Trump.
The case for why Milwaukee is the perfect place to launch the effort to defeat the president goes like this: Hillary Clinton skipped Wisconsin in the general election campaign, leading it to go red for the first time since 1984. A Midwestern convention presence — especially in Wisconsin’s largest and most Democratic city — would send a message that party officials aren’t just coastal elites uninterested in connecting with heartland voters. And it would show a commitment to restoring the party’s relationship with a part of the country that pivoted from Barack Obama to Trump. …
No state better embodiesthe party’s devastating presidential loss than Wisconsin, which Hillary Clinton felt confident enough to bypass only to see it to fall to Trump by less than 25,000 votes. Trump went on to romp through the Midwest before capturing the White House.
“The symbolism is powerful,” Barrett said of Democrats choosing Milwaukee as a host city. “But I think it’s literally connecting with the people who live in the Midwest. The Democrats need to connect with the people who live in the Midwest and this is a prime opportunity to do so. This is an opportunity that they should not miss.”
Wouldn’t that entail accepting the 2016 election results as … genuine? Assigning blame to Hillary Clinton for a terrible campaign strategy rather than sticking with the we wuz robbed narrative? It has the virtue of hard facts and data, but none of the virtue of victimhood that will likely be the prime feature of the 2020 Democratic convention. Bet your bottom dollar that the message from Democrats in the next presidential cycle will be “take the White House out of Moscow,” or something similar. Holding it in Milwaukee will only dilute that messaging.
Besides, if Democrats want to reconstruct their vaunted Blue Wall, Wisconsin’s a tertiary concern at best. They need to win back Pennsylvania first, which has double the number of Electoral College votes and went red despite a few visits from Hillary. Pittsburgh would be the logical choice there, as Philadelphia and eastern PA is reliably Democratic. Western PA has the kind of Rust Belt/Midwestern voter that walked away from the Democrats in the 2016 election, and may still in 2018. Michigan and its 16 electors would come in second in Barrett’s argument. Or maybe third, if Democrats want to win back Ohio. The GOP held their 2016 convention in Cleveland, and perhaps Democrats can fill the gap left by Lebron James.
Honestly, though, the correlation between convention location and electoral success isn’t terribly strong, and mainly seems coincidental. Trump didn’t win Ohio because of the convention location; he won it by working it harder than Hillary did, plus dissatisfaction in the Buckeye state after eight years of Barack Obama. Choosing Milwaukee might at least signal that Democrats are taking a more realistic approach to campaigning, if not messaging, but that largely depends on the candidate than with the DNC, which doesn’t have the infrastructure to run a campaign as the RNC does. However, the other two finalists are Houston and Miami, the latter of which is even more important in the election, if one buys the correlation between host sites and election results. At the very least, the finalist list shows that the Blue Wall rebuilding effort isn’t high up on Democrats’ minds.
For what it’s worth, the Milwaukee media market ranks rather low in the US — 36th on this list. (Miami is 16th and Houston is 7th.) The Twin Cities ranks 15th, which might make it not just a friendly environment in the Midwest but also more influential. Given how close Hillary came to losing Minnesota, maybe Minneapolis and/or St. Paul should consider entering a late bid.