The Democrats’ only chance for avoiding the chaos and recriminations of a brokered convention is if the race winnows down fast. This is not likely.
Even if, say, Buttigieg and Klobuchar lag badly in both Nevada and South Carolina, they will hang on through Super Tuesday, just a few days afterward on March 3. Suppose both drop out at that point, and the air keeps going out of Mike Bloomberg’s balloon.
Even so, that still leaves at least four candidates going the distance, which makes it all but impossible for anyone to come into the convention with the required 50 percent of delegates plus one. Bernie Sanders argues that the candidate with a plurality deserves the nomination, but not surprisingly, none of his rivals are buying that.
Bloomberg can stay in the race as long as his ego can stand it, hoping for a reversal of fortune. Even with the 15 percent threshold rule, he is likely to win some number of delegates.
And though Biden has underperformed inflated national poll numbers once he contests actual primaries, he is likely to stay in for a while as well.
Warren was on the verge of being forced out for lack of money, but her amazing debate performance Wednesday recharged her campaign as well as her finances. Warren not only raised $5 million in 24 hours, but reversed her early purism and has not disavowed a new independent pro-Warren PAC, called Persist PAC, which has already reserved over a million dollars of ad buys.
Wall Street has desperately sought one viable centrist. But all of the centrist and corporate Democrats have faltered, for idiosyncratic reasons.
Biden is past his pull date. Bloomberg has shown that he can’t hide behind his ads and his money. Klobuchar and Buttigieg have gotten bogged down attacking each other. Out of this muddle, providentially, no strong centrist is likely to emerge.
Here is the most surprising scenario: Assuming that Warren builds on her Nevada resurgence and sidelines Klobuchar as the strongest woman contender, the two leading candidates going into the convention could be the two most progressive ones.
This still portends a messy convention—but one with a progressive nominee.