Since the first televised presidential debates in 1960, only one city has been home to a debate -- presidential or vice presidential -- more than twice. The grand champion is St. Louis, which has hosted presidential debates three times (1992, 2000 and 2004), a vice presidential debate (2008) and will host another presidential debate next year.


Meanwhile, there has never been a single debate in the following states: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin or Wyoming. Not to mention Alaska or Hawaii.

The reason St. Louis has been home to more debates than any other state is simple: It's home to Washington University in St. Louis.* This is something that the university is rightly proud of. In fact, the school notes, it was selected in 1996, too, but then the candidates decided to cut down on the number of debates.

Beyond that, it's not clear exactly why we keep giving St. Louis this opportunity. Over time, as the image above shows, swing states have increasingly gotten the chance to host, and Missouri has been (until recently) a swing state. But the venue in those swing states has often moved around.

For 2016, the commission chose three sites that have never hosted a debate before: Dayton's Wright State University; Farmville, Va.'s, Longwood University; and UNLV. And, of course, Washington University. If Jeb Bush wins the GOP nomination, it will be the fourth time a Bush has participated in a presidential debate at Washington University.

So, a proposal: It would be fair to omit Iowa and New Hampshire from the locations that have hosted debates, since they already take up too much of our time in presidential election years. But next time the Commission on Presidential Debates is sifting through the "many applications" it says it received to host a debate in 2016, set the one from Washington University aside. We're sure it's a great application, but maybe it's time to give Wisconsin a shot.


Correction: This post incorrectly referred to the school as "Washington University of St. Louis," which about 2.6 million people on Twitter pointed out was not its actual name. It's "in St. Louis," so we've updated it. But it was a truly impressive display of very specific pedantry focused on the name of a college -- perhaps the most impressive I've seen since my time at the Ohio State University.