Why are there so many conservative conferences?

The past few years have seen an explosion of conservative get-togethers, a ceaseless national circuit of weekend meetups packed with speeches, strategy sessions, panel discussions, dinners and parties. The Faith and Freedom conference, now in its third year, in many ways duplicates the Values Voter Summit put on each fall by the Family Research Council. RightOnline, begun in 2008 to counter the liberal YearlyKos (now Netroots Nation), has analogues in the BlogCon and RedState gatherings. And upstart conventions put on by tea party groups or grassroots activists seem to spring up all the time. To make his appearance at CPAC Chicago earlier this month, Herman Cain had to cancel his appearance at the Conservative Leadership Conference in Las Vegas, while conservative news outlets found themselves pulled between those two and the concurrent Future of Journalism Summit being put on in Providence by the Heritage Foundation and the Franklin Center. “I can hardly keep up with them all,” marveled Jerri Ann Henry, who handles digital outreach for the political PR firm JDA Frontline…

And there appears to be plenty of audience demand, despite the seeming danger that the marketplace is becoming too crowded. CPAC Chicago drew 2,000 attendees, while 1,500 attended all or part of Faith and Freedom. Tickets for the latter ranged in price from $35 (for students who skipped the banquet) to $224 (for the full program, starting with Thursday’s luncheon featuring Rubio); that covered some meals, but not travel or hotel costs for the attendees, many of whom came from far and wide.