But what if … what if … no candidate has secured a majority of delegates before the convention?
Big freaking deal, says Bill Quick:
[T]oday’s panty-wetters act as if a brokered convention is both unique and horrible. In 1968 I worked on the RFK campaign. I was in San Diego when he was killed in LA. He’d just won California, but had not clinched the nomination. The battle cry of his victory speech was “On to Chicago!” Where there would be a contested, “brokered” convention. Nobody, myself included, thought this was strange at all.
It was just part of the process.
Go back further, to 1924. Had television been in its infancy in that year, the Democratic convention might have constituted crib death: John W. Davis, never one of the front-runners during the campaign, was finally selected on the 103rd ballot. (The GOP had no such issues; Calvin Coolidge, who became President upon the death of Warren G. Harding the year before, didn’t even bother to campaign, perhaps another reason why he’s so highly regarded today.) Davis wound up carrying only 12 states, all in the South; a third-party candidacy that year managed to win one state, Wisconsin, home of Progressive Robert M. La Follette, who’d bolted from the Democratic ranks rather than support some terrible person like Davis.
Aside: Coolidge’s Vice President, Charles Gates Dawes, wrote (in 1911) a hit record (in 1951):
This is not, incidentally, what earned Dawes a share of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1925. Then again, the standards were higher back then.