1976 Republicans: The problem that brokered convention proponents ran into that year was that there were effectively only two candidates in the race. As Kornacki notes, while there was some question as to whom the nominee would be, there wasn’t much doubt that either Gerald Ford or Ronald Reagan would receive the nod. Again, the most serious roadblock for a brokered convention in 2012 is that Gingrich, Santorum and Romney all must remain viable. This is possible – again, just possible -- because for now they appear to be developing distinctive bases within the party.
1976 Democrats: The problem here was that Democrats were unsure how to play a prolonged primary race -- with the exception of Jimmy Carter. He won nine of the first 10 primaries, which gave him enough cushion to survive late runs by Frank Church and Jerry Brown. Had one of those candidates gotten in earlier, there really might have been a brokered convention. With all three candidates enjoying major wins early in the primary season this year, building such a cushion seems impossible.
1980 Republicans: There was a scenario for a brokered convention that year, with John Anderson playing a spoiler role. But this was never more than barely plausible, as Anderson and George H.W. Bush would inevitably compete for the same types of constituents -- neither could live while the other survived. Indeed, that split is probably what enabled Reagan to win Vermont on March 4, and Illinois on March 18. When Bush, rather than Anderson, won Connecticut on March 25, and then Reagan won Wisconsin a week later (again, benefiting from the Anderson/Bush split), Anderson’s Republican candidacy was effectively over. (He later ran as a third-party candidate, of course.)
This year is different because the two anti-Romneys are, at least in theory, not competing for the same voters. For the scenario to work, Santorum has to dominate the Midwest and Gingrich has to remain viable in the South.
1980 Democrats: Again, the problem was a two-man race. If the current Republican race devolves into this also, there won’t be a brokered convention.
1984/88 Democrats: I’ll take these together because they nicely illustrate what makes this year unique. The Jesse Jackson candidacy certainly made a brokered convention possible in each election. But in 1984, the super-delegates bailed out Walter Mondale. In 1988, party leaders also closed ranks around Michael Dukakis early; he won an outright majority of the vote in almost every post-Super Tuesday primary.
This year, the party insiders have largely closed ranks around Romney, but that hasn’t seemed to matter to the GOP rank-and-file. And there aren’t enough RNC members to change the outcome unless Romney is very close to winning the nomination to begin with.
But as a thought experiment, let’s assume that Jesse Jackson had run as strongly in 1984 as he eventually would in 1988. In his first go-round, Jackson didn’t win any primaries and received 3.2 million votes. In 1988, he won 11 primaries and caucuses, receiving nearly 7 million votes.
If Jackson had been sufficiently organized and funded in 1984, we would have had a scenario vaguely similar to what we have today: Gary Hart winning prototypical “New Democrats” (“Atari Democrats,” we called them), Mondale running strong with “traditional Democrats,” and Jackson running well with African-Americans. In that scenario, a brokered convention would have been likely. In the same vein, incidentally, if John Edwards had stayed in through Super Tuesday in 2008, there’s a decent possibility that neither Hillary Clinton nor Barack Obama would have amassed a majority of the delegates ahead of the convention.
Similar distinctions can be drawn between today and the other years listed in Kornacki’s piece. Again, what makes this year interesting is that, for now, there are three candidates with potentially distinct bases competing for the prize. I still think that, eventually, this will winnow down to two. As I mentioned, we can’t rule out the possibility that Santorum’s strength is limited to small caucus states (especially once Romney’s spending gets going), and we can’t rule out the possibility that Gingrich’s strength in the South will eventually collapse. But we also can’t rule out the possibility that this split will continue.
miércoles, 15 de febrero de 2012
¿Hacia una convención abierta? (VII)
RealClearPolitics concluye que la clave está en que la competición no se reduzca a sólo dos candidatos: