Here’s How an Open Democratic Convention Would Work

Produced by ‘The Ezra Klein Show’

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A full transcript of this episode is available here:

Ezra Klein: So last week on the show, I made the argument that Democrats should pick a candidate at the convention this year. That Joe Biden is capable of doing the job of president but that his campaign is not going well, that it is not clear, to me, at least, that he is capable of running successfully for president.

This is the way political parties throughout most of American history have picked their nominees for president. But it’s a funny kind of suggestion, because it is somehow simultaneously novel and ancient.

So what I wanted to do today was talk through how conventions work — how an open convention works, what kind of politicking happens at it, what kinds of candidates win, how they win and also talk through what would happen this year. I mean, what if Biden dropped out in April? What if he dropped out in July or August? How does that change it? What happens if he drops out before delegates are selected? What happens if after? All these things create very different dynamics.

Elaine Kamarck has literally written the book on presidential primaries. It’s called “Primary Politics: Everything You Need to Know About How America Nominates Its Presidential Candidates.” She’s a senior fellow in governance studies and the director of the Center for Effective Public Management at Brookings.

But she’s also been in the room where all this happens. She’s worked on four presidential campaigns, on 10 nominating conventions, both for Democrats and Republicans. She’s been a superdelegate to five Democratic conventions. So she both has the theory and the history but the actual felt experience of what it is like when you are figuring out these rules and trying to work within them. As always, my email: [email protected].

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