Midwest to hold both 2024 political conventions, proving its importance in election

Next year, both major parties will hold their national conventions in the Midwest, a region that political experts say proved vital to winning the White House in 2016 and 2020.

Democrats announced Tuesday that Chicago will hold the 2024 Democratic National Convention, while the Republican National Convention will be in Milwaukee.

"Chicago has a good convention center. It's easy to fly in and out of Chicago. There are enough hotel rooms, and those kinds of things become relatively important when it comes down to making a final decision," said Mordecai Lee, a professor emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Lee said decisions about where to hold conventions are based on several factors, including economics, politics and convenience. Both parties are taking different approaches in 2024. 

"I think one would not be exaggerating to say that a Republican can't get elected president without winning Wisconsin," he explained.

In its announcement Tuesday, the Democratic National Committee noted that its decision to choose Chicago was in part motivated by Democrats’ desire to maintain "blue wall," which includes Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota, and was crucial to President Joe Biden's victory in 2020.

The committee called the Midwest a "critical Democratic stronghold," but David Schultz, a professor of political science at Hamline University, said in recent years, the region has actually proved that it’s a battleground.

"Wisconsin and Michigan were absolutely critical to Donald Trump in 2016 and absolutely critical to Joe Biden in 2020. And I don't see any pattern changing in the near future, where Midwest states aren’t going to be either competitive or the center of campaign activity," Schultz said.

That begs the question: How does Minnesota factor into the equation?

"Where it will affect Minnesota, is to we become kind of a pawn, which now Democrats have to spend money here to defend a state that they should win?" Schultz explained.

He said advertising dollars could also be spent in the Twin Cities and Duluth to run ads that are aimed at Wisconsin viewers. It’s also possible the candidates could campaign in Minnesota while they're already in the Midwest for the conventions.