The Republican National Convention begins in earnest this week as Hurricane Isaac pushed the opening festivities from Monday to Tuesday. The Convention will now be a three-day event rather than a four day spectacle. At the Tampa ceremony, former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney will be officially nominated. Since Romney has won the most delegates from the primaries and caucuses held in the early part of 2012, the outcome of him being nominated is already known. Present day convention outcomes with their tie-ins to primary and caucus results were not always the case in this country. From the first convention system around the time of the Andrew Jackson presidency, results were a little less predictable. Delegates who attended the convention were either nominated by the parties or by the people. Since the delegates could either be bound to a candidate or free to vote for whichever candidate they wished, the prospect of a forecasted convention result was less likely. Two examples of such unexpected results come to mind. Republican James Garfield was nominated in 1880 on the 39th ballot. His name was not officially entered into the nominating fray until the 35th ballot. In 1924, when Democrats could not find a nominee, they settled on the little-known John Davis on its 103rd ballot. The nominating process changed after the 1968 Democratic National Convention where Vice-President Hubert Humphrey was nominated following a primary season where he did not run at all for the office. The 1970 McGovern-Fraser Commission in effect was created with the goal of creating a binding Presidential primary system with a party’s nominating convention. The chances of having a deadlocked convention of 1920 or a dark horse entry for President as was the case in 1880 are less likely today. Since Romney won a majority of delegates, the convention outcome therefore is well-known in advance.
Then why do we still have National Conventions? What is their purpose? I would like to hear what you have to say.