Will Super Tuesday result in a brokered GOP convention?
Posted by Mike O on January 7, 2008
It is possible. Consider:
The Republican primary voters are more balkanized than ever before; the social conservatives (Huckabee), the business conservatives (Romney), the social moderates (Giuliani), the ‘hawks’ (McCain/Thomspon), the libertarians (Paul) It is probable there will be no clear leader heading into February 5th; Huckabee in Iowa, Romney in Wyoming, McCain/Romney in Hew Hampshire, Huckabee/Thomspon in South Carolina, Giuliani in Florida, etc. Each candidate is actually passing on campaigning in certain areas to concentrate on their regions of strength. Odds are, there will be six candidates with mentionable committed delegates before February 5th, though none will be significant.
The geographical diversity of the February Super-Tuesday pretty well guarantees a split decision to some degree. The Southern-centric candidates (Huckabee/Thompson) would normally be beaten off by the Northeastern population centers and California; however, this year, those very easily could be split 3 ways between Giuliani, Romney, and McCain. The Midwest states could be completely up for grabs. Even Ron Paul is likely pick up a few across the spectrum. A few larger states are later and we might actually see an insane amount of campaigning in Ohio and Texas (March 4th), Pennsylvania (April 22nd) and even Indiana and North Carolina (May 6th).
In the old days, lack of money would have shut some of the lower tier candidacies down at in February. However, internet technology allows a semi-effective campaign to continue via email and video postings at minimal expense. And the campaigns will, if it looks like the convention will be brokered. In a brokered convention, even a handful of delegates can represent real power, depending on whether people are willing to wheel and deal with you (not likely in Ron Paul’s case).
The MSM can influence this tremendously with their bias: However, they will be torn by multiple biases here. One bias is to ensure a GOP candidate that can be utterly destroyed in November by the Democrat (likely Obama now, with him being their darling at the moment which counters Hillary’s machine). In that case, they push for an outright win by Huckabee. They also have a bias toward creatures of their creation, so some will root for Romney or McCain (not to win, but to be nominated; they’ll hack either apart in the General). However, media corporate interests should be pulling for a contested convention, for the excitement, viewership, and campaign ad cashflow.
Ironically, all of this might favor the media’s anti-Christ in all of this, who may be playing for a brokered convention all the way: Fred Thompson. He is the only candidate who hasn’t ticked off a significant segment of the followers of any of the others. Fred would stand a good shot at being offered a VP slot or, if the convention were to be hopelessly deadlocked, conceivably be offered the whole enchilada as a consensus compromise candidate. The MSM will do everything in its power to kill off Fred before the convention if this looks even remotely possible. They detested Reagan badly enough: Ronnie did not kowtow to them, but was at least polite about it. Fred wouldn’t even be that: A Thompson presidency would probably have Ann Coulter as Press Secretary just to make a point.
Still, the odds are long in all of this; even with the district level determinations, most are winner-take-all, which tends to concentrate delegates to the top candidate even when only slightly more popular. A win of 1% getting 100% of the delegates makes the brokered convention scenario far less likely. The theory that a 20% vote can result in an outright win nominee is an abomination in terms of democratic theory, but that may be this year’s result. Less messy, but also less satisfactory.