Thursday, February 20, 2020

Non-Recall Op-ed on a Brokered Democratic Convention

While this is not recall related, I wanted to expand a little on a op-ed I wrote for the Hill that examines the potential of a Brokered Democratic Convention and how the changes that have been made since the last one to go to more than one ballot (Adlai Stevenson back in 1952) could greatly impact the race and any dealmaking for the nomination.
While we are now seeing quite a bit of coverage on a Brokered Convention, it generally ignores a major fact -- the delegates are actual people who are not bound to support anyone. They can switch their vote on at any time and owe no allegiance to any candidate or political boss. Furthermore, as oppose to in the past, a great many of these delegates are probably not political professionals.  
The delegates of the conventions of yore were frequently political professionals who may have owed their jobs to the political bosses of the state. Many of those people are now Superdelegates, who can’t vote until a second ballot. Back then, delegates were also limited in who they can support by the Unit Rule, which forced the delegates of the state to vote as one (that rule is now banned).  
Not so today – see this story about some of Senator Bernie Sanders’ NY delegates and how they are drawn from other walks of life. Many of them may solely have loyalty to the candidate, or may not have even that.
What this may mean is that there is an “all bets are off” nature to a contested convention. It could be that the prevailing thought that deals can be made by simply trading delegates between candidates is wishful thinking, as delegates can simply not following the leader. The delegates themselves will have minds of their own.
Consider this – there are almost four thousand delegates, not including the Superdelegates. This is more than three times the amount from 1952. By comparison, there are only a maximum of 538 Electors in the Electoral College, where there would presumably be better vetting than the thousands of delegates in a convention. And in the Electoral College, the candidates seem to be having an increasingly hard time keeping those electors in line. In 2016, 10 electors tried to cast ballots for someone other than who they were elected to vote for.
What will happen? Who knows, but the Democrats better start planning ahead.  

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