Nice potted history of “upset” conventions, from Politico‘s Jeff Greenfield — “Can GOP Elites Really Turn Back the Clock in Cleveland?”:
There was a telling exchange on CNBC’s Squawk Box last month that provided the single best bit of insight into the central conflict that will likely embroil the Republicans when they gather in Cleveland in July. Co-anchor Becky Quick suggested to Republican National Committeeman Curly Haugland that there would be deep anger if the leading vote-and-delegate winner—likely to be Donald Trump–were somehow denied the nomination after failing to get the necessary 1,237 delegates on the first ballot.
Haugland calmly responded: “The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That’s the conflict here.” But what about the democratic process? Quick asked. Replied Haugland: “Political parties choose their nominees, not the voters.”
True, it used to be that way. But the problem that the GOP establishment faces is that hasn’t been that way since four decades ago, when the modern era of primaries and caucuses really began and voters took the initiative away from the denizens of the smoke-filled room. And now Republican elders who are desperately trying to derail Trump are openly contemplating going back to the old ways, handing the nomination to someone who never spent a day on the campaign trail, never tried to persuade single voter, and was simply delivered the nomination by an arena full of anonymous delegates. Somehow, the establishment thinks, it can instruct all those millions of Republican voters who came out for Trump and Cruz and Kasich to fall in line behind, say, Speaker Paul Ryan.
This is the nostrum being proposed to save the Republican Party. The greater likelihood is that it will blow the party up, triggering everything from brawls over rules and credentials, to post-convention efforts to launch a third party or write in campaign, to guerrilla wars at the state and local level, with primaries and party purges threatening anyone who embraced the “party will decide!” philosophy…
Supplementary reading, also from Politico — “An Oral History of the GOP’s Last Open Convention”:
… We tend to think of modern party conventions as staid, choreographed affairs, but not the 1976 convention, which was an electric party confab that drew gavel-to-gavel coverage on the networks. That year, Republicans entered the convention torn between incumbent Gerald Ford and conservative crusader Ronald Reagan—and the 20 attendees interviewed for this article, from then-Senator Bob Dole to Reagan adviser John Sears to Trump consigliere Roger Stone, remember a turbulent series of events, some never-before-reported.
“It was riotous,” says Craig Shirley, the author and historian who chronicled Reagan’s 1976 campaign in his book. “It went on for hours, and there were melees in the hall.”…
The list of those present at the chaos reads like a who’s who of the Republican Party. Dole, Ed Meese and Haley Barbour, not to mention John Kasich and his 2016 strategists Charlie Black and Stu Spencer were all in the Kemper Arena over those four wild days in 1976. Trump also recently hired 1976 veteran Paul Manafort, who helped lead the Ford floor operations, to lead his delegate operation in Cleveland. And many of them see Kansas City as a case study of how events could transpire in Cleveland this summer…
Apart from snark about proverbial elephants who never forget, what’s on the agenda for the day?