Time For “Late Entry” Keeps On Slipping, Slipping

As is his habit, Davidson College’s Josh Putnam, proprietor of the invaluable Front Loading HQ website, has listened to all the idle talk of “late entry” presidential candidates and “brokered conventions” and looked at the facts. After tomorrow, he notes, the number of delegates available in states whose filing deadlines have not already passed drops to 1066, less than the 1144 necessary to win the nomination.

Yes, some of these states have “uncommitted” ballot lines or allow write-in votes, and others where voting has already occurred will later name some delegates who are not legally bound to vote for the winner of the caucus or primary (e.g., Iowa). Stretching the definitions of “uncommitted” as far as he can, Josh identifies a maximum of 1768 delegates that could theoretically be picked up by a candidate not already in the field. But then he asks: who would that be?

Who is the candidate who can not only successfully enter the race late, but who can also marshal the organization necessary to cobble together enough delegates to take the nomination or throw enough of a monkeywrench into the process and still maintain support in the party to win the nomination at the convention? Let’s think about this for a moment. There are people in this race now actively seeking the nomination (and who have been running for president for quite some time) who cannot get on the ballots in some states. And we are expecting someone to come in and immediately be able to beat these deadlines, organize write-in efforts and uncommitted slates of delegates to get within shouting distance of 1144 or a lower total held by the frontrunner.

I apologize, folks. But I just don’t see it. There is no silver bullet. There is no white knight.

Thanks, Josh, for the reality check.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.