My friend David Freddoso asks about the possibility of a brokered convention. What do we think of this?
The first thing that I think is that a brokered convention would be very difficult for us. The biggest issue is fundraising. I don’t think that the party will be able to raise money. The issue profile will depend so much on the candidates. Will the social conservatives give money if there is a possibility that Rudy Giuliani could be the nominee? Would the anti-immigration parts of the base be willing to give when there is a chance that someone like Giuliani, John McCain, or Mike Huckabee would be on the ticket? Of course Giuliani has demonstrated a fundraising prowess of the first tier (well, second, …. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are the first tier). Next is, of course, Mitt Romney. Then the rest of the plausible candidates.
The next set of issues surround electability. I think that the argument is clear that McCain is the most electable. The McCain campaign has made the argument and Adam C. over at Redstate has made a similar analysis. Giuliani and Huckabee may also have a similar analysis, although with markedly different constituencies. Romney, whose high numbers depend on enormously expensive advertising, probably could not sustain them. He simply can’t afford to buy that much TV. But it seems clear that McCain wins on the electability analysis. Note that electability is important because of the lack of money. Electability and media-and-poll driven notions of electability will be incredibly important. Blogs and MSM will drive the opinions about the candidates. My gut is that Romney and Giuliani do not do well in that environment. I don’t know about Huckabee. And, to some extent, McCain has already been run through that grinder before.
I also think that an unbound convention creates a situation in which it will be very, very hard for a pro-choice candidate to win. Of course, convention delegates selected in this process are even less straightforward than they would normally be. But my gut is that there would be a lot of hostility to a pro-choice candidate. Giuliani would have more luck with the Republican electorate at large than a convention electorate.
I also think that watching the Beijing Olympics is going to raise our anxieties about China. Some of those will be just about foreign policy, and others will be about straight up security.
Also, the consequences of the foreclosure disaster will be clearer.
Finally, there’s the issue of what do people actually do in the meantime. With no contests, what can candidates do to stay in the news? They are no longer introducing themselves to an electorate. Even if they meet all 2000 or so delegates, what else do they do? They can’t really campaign around the country because they aren’t the candidates.
All in all, I think that McCain would survive this process the best. Whether the delegates can put up with that is a separate issue. But I think that their willingness to be practical will increase two months out from an election. Of course that practicality could result in a Giuliani candidacy too.
But who knows? I think that David’s article is going to result in some serious discussion of this question.