Patt Morrison for May 30, 2012

No more brokered convention, but why?

Mitt Romney Campaigns At Local Business In Las Vegas

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney speaks during a campaign rally at Somers Furniture on May 29, 2012 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Mitt Romney is holding campaign event and attending a fundraiser hosted by Donald Trump in Las Vegas.

Last night in the Texas primary, Mitt Romney reached the magic number, the big 1,144 – the number of delegates required to formally clinch the Republican presidential nomination.

That number also guarantees that, come August, the Republicans won’t face a brokered convention – the political parties’ nightmare scenario when no one candidate has enough pledged delegates to secure the nomination on the first ballot, and then it’s open season on the convention floor.

Reporters swoon over the idea of brokered conventions – so much news, so much conflict! – but political parties hate any coverage that makes them appear splintered, that detracts from the orchestrated coronation that conventions have become, and that cuts into the time the eventual nominee has to campaign in the general election. The last truly brokered convention was in 1952, but before the primary election system, they were quite common.

Patt looks back at the many close-calls since then and finds out why brokered conventions are still so rare…because, in the age of reality TV and the 24-hour news cycles, wouldn’t that be so much more interesting and engaging for the American electorate?


Henry Brady, dean, Goldman School of Public Policy, UC Berkeley and an expert on the history of the political convention system, the nomination process, and media coverage and conventions

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