Brokered Republican convention?  Not going to happen

The Wall Street Journal's distinguished and award winning journalist, Dan Henninger, wrote an opinion piece in the Nov. 12 issue of that paper in which he said the Republican presidential primary contest "won't end until it gets to Cleveland," the site of the Republican National Convention scheduled for July 18-21.  He said, "It's hard for me to say why a round of brokering in Cleveland isn't the most likely outcome."  A friend of mine in Arizona emailed after reading this article and said, "looks like there will be a brokered convention after all."

I enjoy reading Henninger's opinion pieces and agree with many of them.  But not this one.


Henninger is not the first pundit to suggest that the Republicans will go all the way to the convention before selecting their candidate in a brokered convention.  Last March, Karl Rove said on FOX News that such a brokered convention, while unlikely, was a possibility for the Republicans in 2016.  No, it isn't.

Some in the media said the Democrats would have a brokered convention when Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaJill Biden campaigns for McAuliffe in Virginia Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Biden administration breaks down climate finance roadmap Pelosi hilariously scolds media for not 'selling' .5T spending bill: 'Do a better job' MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE ran against each other in 2008... and when there was a large Republican field in 2012...and now again for the Republicans in 2016

In fact, the media predicted that the Democrats would have a brokered convention in 1984 when Walter Mondale and Gary Hart ran against each other.  And again, in 1988, when Michael Dukakis, Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreMcAuliffe on 2000 election: 'I wish the United States Supreme Court had let them finish counting the votes' All Democrats must compromise to pass economic plans, just like 1993 Amy Coney Barrett sullies the Supreme Court MORE and Jesse Jackson were all close in the early Democratic polls.

The media, of course, would love for the Republicans to have a brokered convention because it would give them days and weeks of political drama to write and talk about.  The Democrats would be gleeful if this occurred.  But folks, it's not going to happen. Not in 2016, nor ever again in either party.  

The idea of brokered conventions is really a fantasy and no longer a reality.

Both parties would want to avoid the negative publicity that would, no doubt, come from having a brokered convention.  Plus, any "brokered convention" would actually occur in the weeks and months leading up to the scheduled convention and not during the convention itself.

And how can there be a brokered convention when there aren't any real party power brokers anymore?  Name one in either party?  I can't.

The reason that there will never be a brokered convention again is mostly due to technology:  the combination of TV, shouting cable programs, talk radio, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Micro-targeting and the countless other forms of quick, fast, aggressive and precisely targeted political messaging devices.

All of these will ultimately make it clear that by late May or early June the Republican candidate will be identified.  Even though he/she may not actually have the precise number of committed delegates to formally claim the nomination - as was the case with Ronald Reagan at this approximate date in 1980 in his contest with George Bush - the candidate will be so close to the magic number that support will coalesce behind this candidate the closer it gets to the actual start date of the convention.

The result - a Republican candidate by acclamation on the first and only ballot.  And not a convention with multiple names nominated from the floor - candidate parades - supporting demonstrations - surrogate speakers - balloon drops - vote after vote with some possibly occurring after midnight until an exhausted candidate is finally nominated and backers of losing candidates slowly announce their support for the party's nominee.

No, the fun and suspense of brokered conventions has been left to presidential history.  In a way it's too bad that these colorful conventions won't happen again.

But wait, here's a thought.  Suspend all remaining campaigning.  No more TV more more fund more robo-calls at dinner time.  Each candidate, Republican or Democrat, could only be nominated at their respective conventions and then, after all the nominations were in, the voting would begin.  Lowest vote getter dropped after each round.

Now that would be exciting and would likely result in some real horse trading that, back in the 1800's, might actually have involved real horses.

Goodwin has worked for four United States presidents.  He has been involved in seven presidential campaigns.  He lives in the Washington, DC area.