Diary

The One Rule to avoid Convention Chaos

Consider a fate worse than even a bad candidate becoming the nominee. Consider this: After 5 days and 9 days, the convention is deadlocked. Delegates with lives and jobs are ready to go return to them, but there is no breaking the logjam between an adamant Trump contingent, a Cruz near-majority and a rump set of Kasich holdouts waiting it out. Choas becomes worse when delegate lose hotel rooms, and the convention itself loses the venue and simply runs out of time. Possible?

Well, this is what happened at the Democratic Party national convention in 1924. The convention lasted 15 days and took a record 103 ballots to nominate a presidential candidate. The two leading candidates, catholic New Yorker Al Smith and KKK-backed Californian McAdoo,  were factional candidates both with large following that could not secure a majority, so the convention kept voting and  revoting in a search for a compromise. But with over a dozen compromise candidates to choose from and no ‘leading’ alternative, the process dragged on for weeks and over one hundred ballots.

One thing the convention lacked was a mechanism to winnow down the candidates to force a decision. To avoid the disaster of deadlock we need the solution of winnowing candidates with support thresholds.

Here is the One Rule that will prevent convention chaos:

On the second roll call vote, only candidates receiving 10% or more of the eligible delegates in the prior roll call vote, or the top two candidates if fewer than two candidates are above 10%, are eligible to be voted on this roll call.
On the third roll call vote, only candidates receiving 20% in the prior roll call vote, or the top two candidates if fewer than two candidates are above 20%, are eligible to be voted on this roll call.
On the fourth roll call, only candidates receiving 30% in the prior roll call vote, or the top two candidates if fewer than two candidates are above 30%, are eligible to be voted on this roll call.
On the fifth roll call vote, only the top two candidates are eligible to be voted on this roll call.

This rule will ensure the convention reaches a conclusion within 5 roll call votes at the most. This rule will also eliminate the kind of horse-trading that went on in ‘brokered conventions’ as low-ranked candidates lose their power to trade support.

We are dealing with many uncertainties in the upcoming convention. It’s unlikely but possible that it could drag out, so its important to put a rule in to ensure the nightmare of a deadlocked convention doesn’t become a reality. We need this rule.