The relatively early date of the convention, similar to last cycle’s, is a sign that both parties want to begin the general election as soon as possible. In 2013, then-Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus blamed the late date of the party’s convention for some of the party’s weaknesses, limiting the time that 2012 nominee Mitt Romney could use money earmarked for the fall campaign. The 2020 convention will be the earliest since 1976.
In 2016, both parties also staggered into their conventions with strong front-runners but plenty of resistance. Both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton faced rebellions from supporters of the runners-up, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and strategists for both parties thought that if the conventions had been held later, it would have been more difficult to stitch things back together.
For 2020, the DNC is considering eight host cities: Atlanta; Birmingham, Ala.; Denver; Houston; Miami Beach; Milwaukee; New York; and San Francisco. Two of those cities, Birmingham and Milwaukee, have never before hosted national party conventions.
As the DNC considers bids from each city, it’s attempting to wind up party retooling that began two years ago at the party’s Philadelphia convention. At the next DNC meeting, in August, the full committee will decide whether to affirm changes that would shrink the number of unpledged delegates or bar them from voting altogether on the first ballot of any presidential nominating vote.
It’s less clear when the committee will decide on a host city, though in the recent past it has done so after midterm elections. It picked Philadelphia as the site for the 2016 convention in February 2015.