Election

The primary chaos now won’t stop Democrats from having a brokered convention

The primary chaos now won’t stop Democrats from having a brokered convention
2016 Democratic National Convention Photo: Lorie Shaull

The fluid nature of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination is leading to a lot of speculation. What will the party be facing when it holds its convention in Milwaukee in July? Will any candidate be able to gain enough delegates to claim the nomination outright?

According to Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight.com, the odds of none of the candidates having a majority of delegates is two in five, meaning it’s more likely than the odds being in favor of one candidate. (Bernie Sanders is very close at one in three.)

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The uncertainty is fueled by the screwy nature of the primary system. All the prognosticating is based in the results from Iowa and New Hampshire two small, disproportionately white states. Caucus goers in Iowa seemed to prefer Sanders and Pete Buttigieg (although the results are still a mess) while New Hampshire voters added Amy Klobuchar to the mix.  Despite disappointing showings, former Vice President Joe Biden is holding on to hopes of a strong showing in South Carolina next week

Sanders’ success to date is driving much of the speculation. His electability is an open question, but that can be said about any of the other candidates. Then there’s billionaire and former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is rising in the polls thanks to his massive ad spend. Bloomberg has emerged as the moderates’ savior, who see a Sanders’ nomination as the oath to certain defeat.

Democrats are wrestling with a split between progressives and (relative) moderates, and with the stakes so high this year, the result has been feeding the party’s uncertainty about its future.

With so many tangled threads, it’s no wonder that media speculation about a brokered convention is ramping up. It’s a little like a meteorologist looking out at a storm forming and seeing a potential blizzard coming. Of course, a lot of the time the storm turns out to be just flurries – but meteorologists never lost viewers by hyping a snowpocalyse. The same is true for pundits, who like to look at politics as an opportunity for breathless projections. But the fact is, the race is still early and things can — and will — change.

Candidates will drop out and throw their support to someone else. People will claim certain candidates aren’t “electable”, but in a few months, voters will get used to a front runner and rally around him or her. If you need an example, just look to the Republicans in 2016. The panic around Donald Trump within the party was heavily reported, and Republicans claimed he wasn’t electable. Eventually, they gave way and this proved wrong, and his opponents fell by the wayside one by one.

Yet, despite endless speculation on his “electability” and comparisons to him from moderates, Sanders isn’t like Trump – for one thing, he’s sane. His policies would be far more in line with normal politics than anything Trump has done. He would govern on principle and not whim and corrupt self-interest.

Super Tuesday is in a few weeks, at which point Democrats in fourteen states will be choosing a huge chunk of delegates. That’s when we’ll really know where the race is headed – but it’s probably not going to prevent chaos in Milwaukee.

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