In Praise of Brokering


CNN's account of the West Virginia convention praises the triumph of raw politics

Romney's campaign was furious over the "Washington backroom deal."

"Unfortunately, this is what Sen. McCain's inside Washington ways look like: He cut a backroom deal with the tax-and-spend candidate he thought could best stop Gov. Romney's campaign of conservative change," read a statement from Romney campaign manager Beth Myers.

Front-runners McCain and Romney have engaged in bitter exchanges over their conservative records in recent weeks.

"This is raw politics as it's really practiced," CNN senior political analyst Bill Schneider said. "The McCain supporters who were third in the first round decided to throw their weight behind Mike Huckabee in order to stop Mitt Romney from winning this convention. And look at that—they did."

Schneider gives too little credit to the Armies of Ron Paul, as the combined McCain-Huck vote was only 49 percent: Paul supporters sealed the deal. But the whole experience reveals how much more fair these second-choice contests are then the primaries most Republicans and Democrats will be voting in today. If you're a Ron Paul backer in Connecticut, and your absolute last choice for the nom is John McCain, tough luck: McCain will win every delegate even if he gets less than 50 percent of the vote. If you're a McCain hater in Missouri and you can't decide between Huck or Mitt, you're helping McCain secure a plurality win in a take-all contest. We'd have a far fairer, better sense of what voters wanted if everyone piled into caucuses/conventions… or, better, if they could mark the ballots with their 1st and 2nd choices. (That would clean up a lot of the wasted Fred/Edwards/Rudy absentee votes we'll see today.)