Nate Silver's blog FiveThirtyEight.com recently discussed the 1976 "contested convention," the subsequent presidential election and the split in the Republican Party then and its relevance to the divisions tearing apart the Republicans now. The 2016 Republican Party convention was a contentious--if not contested--convention. In 1976, Reagan, they say, stole the show. I've seen that final speech. It was a good one.
Although Ford prevailed at the contested 1976 convention, Reagan would ultimately prevail at the next election, having electrified and galvanized his base. He would leave a legacy whose worth we still debate. Is there anyone who can motivate and thrill the electorate now? Anyone who can have cross-over appeal?
One of the products of that contested convention, was the switched Faithless Elector vote, one I cite in my new novel, Faithless Elector (p.47)
In 1976, Ford won a plurality in Washington State, but he only received 10 of Washington's (then) 11 Electoral votes. Mike Padden, a Republican Elector, cast his vote for Ronald Reagan rather than his party's candidate, Gerald Ford.
There have been two Faithless Elector votes since then--in 2000, Barabara Lett-Simmons, abstained in protest for lack of District of Columbia representation, and in 2004, an unnamed Minnesota Elector inadvertently cast his/her vote for John Edwards, the vice-presidential candidate.
None of these faithless elector acts had a bearing on the outcome of the election. It is worth noting, however, that such acts of conscience, protest and error are not anomalies but are part of the checkered history of the Electoral College. The ones listed above are merely the most recent.
Polls this early in an election are all-but meaningless, and we all need the Electors to keep the faith.
Publishers Weekly says Faithless Elector is a “fast-moving topical thriller.” Its “surprising twists add up to a highly suspenseful read.”
Faithless Elector, by James McCrone is available through Amazon.