National political conventions haven’t mattered since 1980, when the Democrats fought over rules about whether delegates should be locked in. Even then, the outcome seemed pretty certain, as it has in every convention since then and for quite a while before.
That could change this year, according to a piece written by Michael Medved in The Daily Beast. In the column, Republicans, Dissatisfied with Their Presidential Field, Dream of Deadlock, Medved contends there is a slight chance the GOP nominee might not be picked until the actual convention. Among the reasons is the lack of a true “Super Tuesday” this year and fewer states operating with a winner-take-all formula.
Of all the things Medved says, this to me is the most true:
This outcome appeals to all media outlets (which would relish the high drama and corresponding high ratings) as well as party organizers who would welcome the engagement of the grass roots in a fiercely competitive race and a visibly open convention.
I salivate at the prospect of a convention that matters. I asked my company to send me to both conventions in 2008, even offering to take a bus and find homes to crash in. The response from my bosses was that conventions are scripted infomercials. They were right. I don’t plan on repeating the request this year, but I’ll enjoy the festivities much more.
Where I disagree with the headline is that this is happening because Republicans are dissatisfied. While true that there probably is a lack of enthusiasm for any candidate other than Ron Paul, if party members were generally excited about more than one candidate the same scenario could exist. The truth is no one has managed to pull away. (Again, like I’ve said before, that’s an interesting expectation to have when there hasn’t been even a single caucus or primary.) The point is that the race is even enough that this next year offers the most promise we’ve seen in years that a primary process might not deliver a clear winner.