By Rachel Brody |
Even though national convention delegates are more loosely bound to the candidates than the total counts suggest, neither former Sen. Rick Santorum nor former Speaker Newt Gingrich will be able to bring about a brokered convention. Besides the fact that a Gallup poll late last month showed that a large majority of Republicans are against the idea, Republican elected officials and party leaders know two things: (1) Former Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele, who recently asserted that "a little chaos is a good thing," is wrong; (2) Republican front-runner Mitt Romney is right in saying, "If we go all the way to the convention, we would signal our doom in terms of replacing President Obama."
Owing to the organizational difficulty of securing a majority of electoral votes, a presidential candidate needs a unified and enthusiastic political party to win the White House. In the modern political era, no party can afford to engage in a factional floor fight three months out from the election.
That is why in 2008, Sen. Hillary Clinton, who had earned about the same number of popular votes as Sen. Barack Obama and was less than 150 pledged delegates shy of his total after all of the nomination contests, did not challenge him at the Democratic National Convention. Instead, she interrupted the roll call of the states, and moved for his nomination to be made by acclamation, a procedure usually only reserved for incumbent presidents. Under pressure from other Democratic elected officials, major donors, and high-level operatives, Clinton not only surrendered the possibility of winning through a series of roll call votes, but she also led the effort to quiet her supporters' dissent and reunify her party. Simply put, if she had not done this and she had fought for her nomination, the party would have riven and she would have become her party's pariah.
Looking at the Republicans in 2012, it's tough to imagine that at the end of this race, particularly because beginning in April when more states will award delegates in a winner-take-all fashion, either Santorum or former Gingrich will have anywhere near the number of popular votes or delegates that Romney will have. Neither will possess as strong a claim as Clinton had to proceed with a fight.
Despite the stated wishes of Santorum and Gingrich, a brokered convention just won't happen—unless the GOP decides President Obama deserves a second term.
About Lara Brown Author of 'Jockeying for the American Presidency: The Political Opportunism of Aspirants'
Ford O'Connell Republican Strategist, Conservative Activist, and Political Analyst
Jamie Chandler Professor at Hunter College
Ron Bonjean Former Chief of Staff for the Senate Republican Conference