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Someone Has to Win? Really?

December 21st, 2007

One of my favorite political blogs is The Fix, a regular feature of www.washingtonpost.com, written by Chris Cillizza. On Fridays The Fix has a special feature called The Line where he gives a rundown of the horserace as he sees it. Today’s The Line is entitled, “Someone Has to Win the GOP Nomination.” So far, I’m willing to accept that someone must eventually win the GOP Nomination. Where I disagree with the esteemed political writer is:

What gets lost in all of the negativity about the Republican field is that in less than two months, someone will be the party nominee. Put simply: Someone has to win this thing.

Less than two months?! That’s just a bald-face lie.

Yes, it is true that a majority of delegates will be decided within the next two months, but if things go as they have been, there is no certainty that any one candidate will have amassed the number of delegates necessary to win the nomination. Granted, it’s been many a year since this has happened, but there used to be a time when the nominee was chosen at the convention by elected delegates doing more than just waving signs and clapping their hands. If a clear winner does not emerge from the pack to claim a majority, then the convention will once again reign supreme. All the political commentary about the split nomination race seems to miss the actual process of the nomination and how it functions in reality. The nomination is not chosen by an election where a plurality is enough. Strict rules govern the processes, and fifty years of not needing to use them doesn’t make them any less relevant.

This has an interesting impact on the decisions of the national party to strips delegates from states violating the nominating calendar, namely Florida and Michigan. Conventional wisdom says this is all positioning because the eventual nominee, who will control the Rules Committee, will seat the delegates anyway. But what if the Rules Committee seats are split among the candidates and thus lack the majority votes to change the rules? What then?

So no, no one has to win anything in the next two months. But if someone doesn’t, well, then we are in for some interesting times come convention time.

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