Garland Tucker writes at National Review Online about the most hotly contested presidential nomination battle in American history.

Many historic precedents of contested conventions can be cited, but the most contested of all was without question the Democratic Convention of 1924. By the time convention delegates convened in New York City on June 24, there was ample evidence that the Democratic party was deeply divided. As the leading quipster of that day, Finley Peter Dunne (“Mr. Dooley”), wrote, “The Dimmycratic Party ain’t on speakin’ terms with itself.” …

… Finally, on July 9, Smith and McAdoo released their delegates (the latter very grudgingly), and a compromise candidate, John W. Davis of West Virginia, won the nomination on the 103rd ballot. The longest and bitterest convention in American history had mercifully come to an end.

What can be learned from all this?

Three points: First, America does indeed have a history of contested conventions. While we haven’t had one in a while, it’s nothing new — and the Republic and the parties have survived them.

Second, it’s possible in the midst of bitter acrimony and division for a party to nominate a good candidate. The leading columnist of that day, Walter Lippmann, wrote about the 1924 Democratic convention that “in this case men who had looked into a witches’ cauldron of hatred and disunion yielded to a half-conscious judgment which was far more reliable than their common sense. For they turned to the one candidate who embodied those very qualities for lack of which the party had almost destroyed itself.” More 2016 Behind the Scenes of the Political-Reality Show The Circus Scenes from a Political Revolution, Colorado Style Middle East Forum’s Surprising Straw Poll on Trump

Third, although John W. Davis was as fine a man as has ever been nominated by either party, his general-election prospects were ruined by the convention. As Franklin Roosevelt wrote to a friend in the fall of 1924, “We defeated ourselves in New York in June.” With party divisions running so deep and with severe personal animosities between McAdoo and Smith, it was impossible for the Democrats to rally around Davis and win the election.

This final point should be sobering to the GOP as it faces a contested convention in 2016. Contested conventions have not usually been as bitter as the 1924 Democratic convention. But if the 2016 Republican convention is allowed to degenerate into internecine warfare, the Democratic party will be the big winner.