No one in the Democratic Party -- except perhaps the front-runners locked in a dead heat -- want to think of what would happen if the primary race goes into the convention Aug. 25-28 in Denver. This Thursday, I'll look at whether or not we'll see a "brokered convention," which would involve political horse-trading, backroom negotiations by top party officials and delegate shifts.
Howard Dean, chairman of the Democratic National Committee, recently has said he does not expect one -- and that such a thing would not be a good idea. His prediction might be wishful thinking, though, according to the delegate counts below.
[Hillary Clinton] [Barack Obama]
Whether or not it happens, Paul Beck told me that the Dems have been heading for such a battle ever since they made a series of rule changes after embarassing convention-floor battles in 1968 and 1972.
According to the Ohio State University political science professor, after those debacles, the national party standardized rules among state parties about how delegates were elected; they also opted for proportional representation in primary elections, opting out of the winner-takes-all method still used by the Republican Party. Before this time, parties selected nominees at conventions, and primary elections were quite rare. Soon after, primaries became as important as they are today.
This year, most expect some sort of deal to be worked out between Clinton and Obama before the convention. A vice presidential nod could be the needed concession to convince one to drop from the race. Don't expect any more debates between the two, and as the end nears, I'd say we could see fewer attack ads airing. (You don't want John McCain to start pointing out all the points on which the two disagree.)
Researching what would actually happen in a floor battle, I came across some interesting advice/analysis from some high-level party Republican operatives and advisors, including:
[Karl Rove] [Stuart Spencer]
Beck also raised an interesting point: A floor battle could be a good thing specifically for the Dems and generally for U.S. electoral politics. People were begrudging the March date of Ohio's primary, but with a race this close, every vote counts -- even those from smaller states and territories.
That, I agree, is a good thing.