Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Elsewhere Today: Debate Preview, Vanity Super PACs, and Deadlock Nightmares

Hey, folks a little bit of housekeeping: in addition to all the other cool places you can read me, I'm now going to be contributing to PostPartisan, which is (another) one of the blogs over at the Washington Post. I'll try to keep to the same pace here. But I'm not sure whether I'll wind up doing one post a day with links to whatever else I've done (usually a post over at Plum Line and another at PostPartisan, but sometimes there's a column -- see below), or if I'll try to do a separate follow-up post for each item elsewhere.

For today, I'll just be doing this one. Let's see...over at Greg's place, I did a debate preview. I'll do a wrap on the debate over there tomorrow, by the way, and of course I'll be tweeting it as usual. You do all follow me, right?

My first post over at PostPartisan is about vanity Super PACs and the presidential nomination process. I have a speculative hypothesis, by the way: I suspect that vanity Super PAC dollars might turn out to be somewhat similar to self-funding dollars -- that is, relatively ineffective. Of course, even if they don't actually produce votes, they could alter the nomination battle by preventing normal winnowing, which really could lead to disaster for parties.

Speaking of which, I'm also up with a Salon column about the disasters that could happen if we ever do get a true deadlocked convention. I came up with several possibilities, the last of which is a real doozy (what if a large chunk of delegates walks out, holds a rump convention, and claims that they are the legitimate Republican Party -- and entitled to the GOP ballot line in November?!?). OK, perhaps that's not all that likely, but check out the piece for others nightmares that lurk, and I bet that the creative commenters around here could come up with several more. Not that it's actually going to happen, at least not this time around.

Okay, that's about it for now. Except: thanks to all of you for your support.


  1. I believe the real impact of the vanity Super PACs is the ability for campaigns to run negative ads with plausible deniability. It's not just that they can keep zombie candidacies alive, it's that they let the zombie candidates eat the brains of the living candidates, turning them into zombies.

  2. Not that it's actually going to happen, at least not this time around.

    Suppose we assume the entirely plausible delegate split in your Salon article; actually, with uncommitteds allocated let's assume it ends up 1100 Romney and about 400 for each of the other three.

    That moment would be a far far cry from other contested primaries; it couldn't be more different from HRC gradually being defeated in 2008, with the consolation prize of a day at the convention, announcing Obama's victory, and a Sec of State post to mollify the PUMAs. In the above entirely plausible scenario, Romney's the "winner" by a large plurality, but not the official winner - lacking a majority - even though all the pundits forecasted a Romney victory for months.

    What happens then? Romney's 1100 delegates screams the "party doesn't want you" (because its not the 2000 or so delegates you would have expected from Romney against a field like this). But there's no simple way to go for any of the distant runners-up.

    If Romney and his 1100 delegates are not deemed the winners of the nomination, then it seems very likely they walk across the street and proceed with the rump convention - that's arguably the logical thing to do. Given Romney's long-standing frontrunner status, and the lack of viable competition, there's a pretty good chance that the party wouldn't be motivated to cut a deal elevating Romney and his 1100 delegates (if the party wanted to elevate Romney, they had 4 years to do so before the convention).

    Maybe not "likely" - but probably not as unlikely as you suggest; indeed, any outcome with Romney less than 1,144 would seem to open the very real possibility of a rump convention.

  3. A rump convention seems tailor-made for Santorum. We've had Mugwumps, make way for the Santo-Rumps! "I have nothing against rumps - most people have them, and I do too. But just having one is not a license to do things in the sexual realm that are counter to how things are supposed to be.”


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