Conventions

Congratulations to Laura Loomer for her victory in the Florida US Congressional District 21 Republican primary last night.  She’ll now face off against incumbent Democrat Lois Frankel on 3 November 2020.  It’s a very blue district, but if anyone can win it, it’s LoomerConsider donating to her campaign to flip FL-21!

The Democratic Party kicked off its virtual convention Monday evening.  They’ve dubbed it “D20,” which makes me think of Dungeons & Dragons.  That (perhaps) unintentionally symbolizes the basement-dwelling, anxiety-ridden nerdiness of the modern Democratic Party.

Yesterday’s Rasmussen Number of the Day on Ballotpedia observed that it’s been forty years “since the last meaningful national convention.”  That was a reference to the 1980 Democratic National Convention, in which incumbent President Jimmy Carter faced a convention floor challenge from Senator Teddy Kennedy.  Carter had enough delegates to win the nomination outright, but Kennedy challenged the convention rules in an attempt to force a floor vote.

Kennedy’s attempt failed, and Carter won the nomination with 64% of the delegates.  For the vice presidential nomination, bitter pro-Kennedy delegates skipped out on the vote; those that did show up scattered their votes between various nominees.  Nevertheless, the incumbent Vice President Walter Mondale still walked away with nearly 73% of the delegates.

Four years earlier, the Republicans witnessed a convention challenge of their own.  At the 1976 Republican National Convention, California Governor and conservative darling Ronald Reagan challenged incumbent President Gerald Ford.  Ford had the most delegates, but did not have enough to win the nomination outright.  Reagan enjoyed strong support from conservatives, but pledged to make liberal Republican Richard Schweiker his running mate if nominated.  That attempt to bring in moderates and liberals backfired, instead alienating some conservatives.

Still, the final delegate count was very close—Reagan lost to Ford by only 117 votes.  Ford went on to lose to Carter that year, and four years of Carter’s disastrous presidency provided the fodder necessary for Reagan to win the Republican nomination and the presidency in 1980.  Had Reagan won in 1976—at a time when Republicans were still reeling from the Watergate scandal—he might not have won the presidency, and his election in 1980 may never have occurred.

Since the 1976 and 1980 conventions, political party conventions for the two major parties have largely been star-spangled formalities.  They generate a great deal of excitement for the candidates, but the outcomes are foregone conclusions.  Yes, there was an attempt during the 2016 primaries to get to a brokered convention, but John Kasich’s stubborn refusal to drop out of the race meant that Senator Ted Cruz couldn’t peel enough votes away from Trump.  Trump’s appearance at that convention was, indeed, electrifying.

With the Democrats hosting a virtual convention, they’re missing out on that energy and enthusiasm.  It’s hard to get excited about an Internet livestream of boring diversity hires rambling on about equity.  Even their candidate is shambolic and muddled.  Don’t expect much of a “convention bump” in the polls this year.

Hopefully the Republicans will take notes on what not to do.  Fortunately, President Trump is incredibly entertaining, and his well-honed showmanship should make for a good time, if nothing else.

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