Thursday, March 10, 2016

What's so bad about a contested convention? - Silvio Canto, Jr.

by Silvio Canto, Jr.

In the old days, we had real conventions and got candidates like Lincoln, FDR and quite a few others.

We may see a contested convention in 2016. Mr. Trump may not get there with enough delegates, as John Fund wrote:
Right now, Trump has won 44 percent of the delegates selected so far. Cruz has won 34 percent, and Rubio has won 17 percent. Starting on March 15, the first states to allocate delegates on a winner-take-all basis start voting, led by John Kasich’s home state of Ohio and Marco Rubio’s home state of Florida.
If Trump wins both, he will have about half the delegates needed to clinch the GOP nomination. He then would have to win just over 50 percent of the delegates selected after March 15 to reach the magic delegate number of 1,237. If he did so, he would enter the convention with enough votes for a first-ballot victory, although some of his delegates who are established party officials and not Trump partisans could abstain and bring his total below a majority.
But, as NBC’s First Read blog has reported, if Trump wins Florida but loses Ohio to Kasich, he will then have to win 57 percent of the remaining delegates to win on the first ballot. But if Rubio wins Florida and Kasich wins Ohio, Trump will still lead in overall delegates but would then need to win 66 percent percent of the remaining delegates to reach 1,237.
Given how much of the party opposes Trump, that would be unlikely.
In the old days, we had real conventions and got candidates like Lincoln, FDR and quite a few others. Today, the convention is nothing but a 4-day meeting without any real suspense. Even the VPs are now announced before the convention starts. Wonder why people are not watching on TV? It's like getting to a wedding ceremony when the couple is walking out of the church!

Today's political process gives us de facto candidates in the spring. It means that we are stuck with the choice in the summer when the political landscape looks different.

Back in 1996, the GOP met in San Diego to nominate Senator Dole. To be fair, Mr. Dole is an amazing man, a great senator and a war hero. At the same time, everybody at the convention, or like me watching on TV, knew that Mr. Dole would lose the election.

My guess is that Mr. Dole would not have been nominated in a contested convention. Maybe Jack Kemp or Governor Pete Wilson of California would have emerged as a stronger candidate. Or someone else! Maybe General Collin Powell would have been drafted.

My point is that delegates went through the motions and nominated a man in Mr. Dole that everybody knew would lose. They did not have the flexibility to adjust and nominate a more electable candidate.   

What's the point of having a convention if delegates can not adjust the choice made in the primaries?

Put me down as someone who would love to see contested conventions come back.  

The world will not end.  

Yes, it will be chaotic and a couple of punches may be thrown on the floor. However, I trust that the delegates will make the right call. They did for much of our history when the conventions, not primaries, nominated candidates.

P.S. You can listen to my show (Canto Talk) and follow me on Twitter.

Silvio Canto, Jr.


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