Larry Sabato is definitely a smart guy, with clear thought behind his positions. In this case, I generally agree with him, but feel this case is often overstated.

1) In modern times, each party’s National Convention is not really a nominating activity, but a kick-off of the general election campaign. It becomes dog and pony show for the press to give them free publicity. Well, not free because the convention is pretty expensive, but the amount of air-time is worth so much more. And it works, as evidenced by the “bump” in the polls that candidates tend to get from their convention. So a brokered convention would lose that opportunity. Hard to make up for this later in the campaign.

2) On the other hand, the contentiousness of a primary battle usually does not significantly hurt the eventual nominee. How much did the rhetoric between Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton hurt the eventual nominee? Critics point to the re-election campaign of Jimmy Carter that was hurt by the primary battle with Ted Kennedy, but you have to realize how much ineptitude the public recognized in Carter. What really matters is WHO the eventual nominee is, and whether they can unify the party faithful and appeal to the (majority of the) general electorate.


The Flight 103 Presidency

3) In the case of a contested convention, who they may end up nominating is totally up for grabs, and that is where my biggest concern with this possiblity lies. Voters who are dissatisfied with the current nominees hope this will give their “white knight” to ride in and save the day. But if there were such a savior, where has he (or she) been over the past 6 months? If they could not gain the support of enough primary voters, are they really a viable candidate? And do you trust the party insiders, who will dominate the convention floor because of their “experience” and “leadership” credentials, to broker between competing groups for a “concensus” nominee? It would likely end up being an establishment pick, rather than a choice of all of the voters as expressed in the primaries and caucuses.

So, my bottom line is that I don’t trust the outcome of a brokered convention to be any better (and likely to be much worse) than the result of a contentious primary battle.

May the best candidate win!