End the duopoly

Political Conventions Will Likely Never Be The Same

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Barack Obama, then a little known state senator and candidate for U.S. Senate from Illinois, speaks during the 2004 Democratic National Convention in Boston. It’s a nondescript, utilitarian room in the bowels of a sports arena. The presidential nomination is on the line. Aides to three candidates still in the contest are haggling with convention staff over who speaks when, will their biographical videos be shown, whose office space is nearest the floor. It’s a political junkie’s dream. It could be real. But it’s not. This is how it played out in a 2012 episode of NBC’s prime-time drama The West Wing.

The last time something even remotely close to this truly happened was in the summer of 1952, when Illinois Gov. Adlai Stevenson secured the Democratic nomination on the third ballot — the third round of voting. That’s how far you have to go back to find a presidential nominating convention that needed more than one ballot to choose its nominee.

And since the 1970s, such a scenario has become even more unlikely, given that delegates are now awarded in caucus and primary contests held in every state and territory.

A tradition going back two centuries

The big Democratic […]

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