2016 DNC in Philly Provides American Nostalgic Backdrop

February 12, 2015 Updated: February 12, 2015

The Democrats are certainly going to play up choosing Philadelphia as the destination for 2016’s Democratic National Convention, an expert says.

The other finalists had been Columbus, Ohio, another swing state, and Brooklyn, N.Y. Compared to those two cities, Philadelphia has a historical association with freedom and liberty dating back to when the U.S. Constitution was written.

“I’m sure the Democrats will say this is where democracy was formed and how appropriate it is that we’ve come to Philadelphia to celebrate,” said University of Michigan Assistant Professor of Political Science Michael Heaney, who called such efforts lip service.

“They’re trying to please different groups in their state.”

The DNC Chair and Florida Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz echoed the predicted sentiments in a statement Thursday: “There is clearly no better city to have this special event than Philadelphia. The role of Philadelphia in shaping our nation’s history is unmatched.”

They’re trying to please different groups in their state.
— Michael Heaney, University of Michigan

The event will be held at the Wells Fargo Center, a sports complex that’s home to the basketball team, the Philadelphia 76ers, and the Philadelphia Eagles football team.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio expressed his disappointment Thursday that New York wasn’t chosen and attributed the loss to the city’s lack of parking lots near Brooklyn’s Barclays Center. The city relies on more public transportation than the more sparsely laid out City of Brotherly Love.

For Democrats, the choice was between the New York metropolis or strategically hosting the convention in a swing state. It was a tactic that United States President Barack Obama used during both elections in 2008 and 2012, to court new voters and volunteers in closely contested states.

Still, even hosting in a swing state does not guarantee the party will carry the state. Since 1900, both the Democratic and Republican parties have lost the swing states they hosted-in 14 times, compared to winning 15 times.   

And in the long-run, the location of the convention isn’t as important as whether Hillary Clinton, widely believed to be the Democrats’ top contender for presidency in 2016, says all the right things and how events transpire, said Heaney.