I got up this morning wondering about the plausible scenario that no Democratic candidate will have a majority of delegates going into the convention in Milwaukee this summer, thus producing a contested/brokered convention, which we haven’t seen since 1952. Here’s part of the email I sent to some friends (some of them known to Power Line readers) with whom I kick around the state of things several times a week:
My current thinking is that Klobuchar is at least a lock for the VP slot, and might even sneak through to be the nominee. Right now it appears possible that no one is going to get enough delegates to secure the nomination. But Democrats really can’t risk a contested convention. No one knows how to do it, for one thing. The DNC will want to settle the matter somehow before the convention.
Hence the likelihood of a deal: Klobuchar offers her delegates to someone in exchange for the VP slot. Or maybe Buttigieg offers to be VP and throws his to Klobuchar. Possible that Buttigieg might throw his to Bernie in exchange for the VP slot–or maybe Biden if he manages to win SC and stay alive (doubtful right now). I’m surprised I haven’t seen any speculation on this scenario in the media yet. (All this assumes that Mayor Pete and Klobuchar continue to perform well enough to earn a non-trivial number of delegates.)
Bloomberg obviously won’t take the VP slot in a deal, and I’m doubtful any of the other candidates will offer to support him at the convention because he annoys too many of the left’s key interest groups. And the deal scenario is risky, though less risky than an open convention. Any deal that deprives Bernie of the nomination will set off literal riots in Milwaukee.
So if I had to guess I still think Bernie is going to eke it out, as it is highly likely that he’ll have the most delegates. If for no other reason than that the larger story line of our time is Democrats have to follow the path of the British Labour Party.
Lo and behold, the great Henry Olsen discussed this very scenario in his Washington Post column this morning, which tracks what I say here very closely.
But by late this afternoon I had reached a different conclusion: the nomination is Bernie’s to lose. He could lose it, but I doubt it, unless Bloomberg takes him out, but I doubt that too.
Right now the conventional thinking is—look, the four so-called “moderate” candidates (my Devil’s Dictionary defines “moderate Democrat” as “someone especially skilled at concealing their socialism”) outpoll Bernie and Lizzie by two-to-one. But the assumption that a “moderate” candidate will defeat Bernie in a one-on-one matchup is almost surely wrong.
First, I got to thinking, “Where did I hear that before?” Oh yeah—that’s right, in 2016, when it was said that Trump would eventually succumb in a one-on-one matchup. Back in June 2016 (by which time Trump had nailed down the nomination) I wrote here on Power Line why this popular theme was wrong:
People should take account of “Why Trump Was Inevitable” in the latest New York Review of Books. There political scientists Ronald B. Rapoport, Alan I. Abramowitz, and Walter J. Stone take note of the data and point out that Trump was correct when he argued that much of the support of other candidates would go to him as they dropped out. Based on a survey they took around the time of the Iowa caucuses, they found that no single candidate topped Trump in hypothetical head-to-head matchups. Cruz came the closest, and not coincidentally he was the last man standing.
And guess what? There is new poll data out today from YouGov (one of the better polling outfits in my opinion) showing that Bernie is the Trump of 2020: likely to win head-to-head matchups, too:
A new Yahoo News/YouGov poll shows that Sen. Bernie Sanders would defeat each of the other Democratic presidential candidates in a one-on-one race — in many instances by double-digit margins.
Here’s the data chart:
Get ready for the Queens versus Brooklyn fall campaign, with a straight-up cage match between capitalism and socialism, Archie Bunker versus Meathead, John Ford versus Michael Moore. Bring it on, I say.