Friday, January 18, 2008

January 18, 2008

We haven't had one of these in about forever, but a multiballot convention might be possible now. It really might.
The Republicans have had four contests so far and three different winners--Mike Huckabee in Iowa, John McCain in New Hampshire, Mitt Romney in Wyoming (he won eight delegates, no big deal) and Michigan. This adds up to no front runner. It's unlikely that this weekend's events--Nevada caucuses for both parties and a South Carolina primary for the GOP--will change that.
South Carolina did McCain in in 2000. A stunningly dirty campaign featured a rumor that he'd fathered a black child. The McCains do have a black daughter, as it happens, but they adopted her from an orphanage in Bangladesh. We should all hope that the negatives will be less nasty this time and that the McCain camp will be quicker to label lies for what they are.
So, on Sunday there probably still won't be a GOP frontrunner and it's entirely possible there'll be no frontrunner heading into February 5th, when Republicans hold primaries and caucuses in 21 states.
The same thing could happen to the Democrats. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton split Iowa and New Hampshire; Michigan and Wyoming were Republican events. And who knows? Even February 5th might not produce a clear frontrunner. This raises something political reporters recently have only dreamt of--an actual, contested convention, with the nominee not chosen on the first ballot. I mean, what if Fred Thompson does well in South Carolina? What if Rudy Giuliani is rewarded for planting all those palm trees in Florida? Wouldn't that be a treat?
The Republicans' last multiballot convention was more than half a century ago, in 1948, when New York Gov. Thomas Dewey was nominated on the third ballot. The Democrats' last one was four years later, in 1952, when Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson was nominated, also on the third ballot. It is only fair to note that both these nominees lost--Dewey to Harry Truman and Stevenson (twice) to Dwight Eisenhower.
No one, of course, wants to emulate 1924 when the Democrats took 103 ballots to nominate John Davis, who wound up losing to Calvin Coolidge anyway. But it would be kind of fun, don't you think, to hear Charlie, or Katie, or whomever saying, "And as we prepare for the fifth ballot, there seems to be movement toward...." Be different anyway.

No comments: