The Fantasy of a Brokered Convention
Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican nominee for President. Romney has a 300 delegate lead over Rick Santorum, who is starting to veer into "run the table" territory. That is, Santorum has to roll up a bunch of convincing wins in order to stay within striking distance.
Lets take a look at the upcoming calendar, shall we? Louisiana, and its 47 delegates are up for grabs this Saturday. That's a possible Santorum win. After that, the calendar is extremely favorable to Romney: DC (where Romney already has two pledged delegates), Maryland, Wisconsin, Connecticut, Delaware, and New York should be easy Romney wins. Santorum could pick up victories in Pennsylvania, Indiana, North Carolina, and West Virgina. But those primaries are in late April and early May. Who knows if Santorum is still in the race by that point?
Political pundits are already writing fevered fantasy stories about a brokered convention in Tampa this summer. A brokered convention means Romney did not get the 1,144 delegates needed to clinch the nomination. At that point, all of the delegates are released and the nominee is picked on a succession of ballots. The cream of the national political press hates political conventions. They say the conventions are nothing more than four day commercials for a particular party. They want drama. They want a 1968-style floor fight. They want the drama of the 1976 republican convention, where President Ford mended fences with Ronald Reagan. They want Teddy Kennedy challenging Jimmy Carter in 1980.
The dramas of the past are the reason why political conventions lack drama today. It took 40 years for the Democratic Party to recover from the debacle of 1968. The public nomination drama of '76 and '80 crippled the incumbents in November. Public fights are great TV...but they are bad for business. There is no way the Republican Party will allow a floor fight. Yes, the GOP is a collection of libertarians, fiscal conservatives, social conservatives, evangelicals, and Tea Party activists. Yes, they have a hard time co-existing. But they are all united in their wish to vote against Barack Obama in November. They will either come to this conclusion on their own, or a party elder will eventually get all sides to cut in-fighting and focus on the big prize.
Even with a united Republican Party behind him - Mitt Romney has an uphill battle. If the election were held today - President Obama would win...in numbers identical to 2008. Forget the national tracking polls...Obama leads in the states that count. In state-by-state polling, Obama leads Romney in most of the states he won four years ago. The only exceptions are Iowa and Indiana.
If I were a betting man, I would put my money on Romney picking Florida Senator Marco Rubio as his running mate. Rubio has a great deal of street-cred among conservative Republicans. He's also the son of Cuban exiles - and that pedigree should help him with Hispanic Voters in Florida, Colorado, and Nevada. For Rubio - it's a win-win situation. If Romney wins, he's Vice President. If Romney loses, he's the presumptive front-runner in 2016.
But I would not put my money on a brokered convention...or a floor fight. The downside is too steep.