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How Much Do National Political Conventions Mean Economically?

ABC NEWS - 7/28/16 - Coverage of the 2016 Democratic National Convention from the Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, PA which airs on all ABC News programs and platforms. (ABC/Ida Mae Astute) BALLOON DROP
Photo: Disney | ABC Television Group

The massive political tides have come and gone. Although the RNC and DNC are now officially over, the conversations around each event have not faded, and many are still weighing in on the relative successes of each convention, as well as the impact they have made in their host cities. “Convention tourism” is a big business, and the national political conventions are its most sought-after jewels. Will the expectations set pre-festivities hold true?

Leading up to the conventions, news channels reported many different estimates of the economic impact of each event, which ranged in levels of optimism both before and after the events: from boisterous celebrations (RNC and DNC) to unfiltered skepticism (RNC and DNC). While there are still official numbers being crunched to see the full impact of these events on their host cities, we have already been flooded with varying analyses. Let’s break down what we know thus far about the effect the conventions had on their respective cities: RNC in Cleveland and DNC in Philadelphia, as well as highlight those conversations about the importance of hosting major events in a growing city.

Republican National Convention

By the Numbers

  • 5,000 hotel rooms requested in downtown Cleveland
  • 16,000 hotel rooms requested in northeast Ohio
  • 50,000 visitors


Key Figures

  • 2,472 delegates
  • $50 million in federal grants
  • 50 hotels and/or waterparks hosting convention delegates
  • 1,200 convention-related events


Total Spending: $180 million spent by visitors – 10% less than projected

The Commentary


Democratic National Convention

By the Numbers

  • 18,000 volunteers
  • 50,000 visitors
  • $60 million for total convention costs


Key Figures

  • 4,769 delegates
  • $50 million in federal grants
  • 90 contracted hotels for delegates, more than 13,000 rooms
  • 500-700 convention-related events


Total spending: $180 million by visitors

The Commentary


Are these large-scale events worth it?



Lauren Bauman is a Marketing Assistant at Econsult Solutions, Inc. (ESI) and a student at Drexel University studying Global Studies with a focus in International Business and Economics.

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