With the Olympics now postponed for a year and major cities dealing with massive spread of coronavirus, will either party hold its national conventions this summer? For Republicans, a virtual convention presents no real electoral problems, but the same may not be true for Democrats. “It is full speed ahead until a staffer yells ‘Iceberg’,” one DNC member from California told Politico about the plans.

The DNC’s official spokesperson insists it’s still full speed ahead to Milwaukee — publicly, anyway:

The Democratic National Committee insists its July convention is going forward as planned — even as Democrats across the country are increasingly skeptical it will happen.

“There are no plans to cancel the convention and we are not considering a rules change at this time,” Xochitl Hinojosa, the DNC’s communications director, said Monday after news reports that the party is in the process of devising backup plans. “Contingency planning is a routine part of preparations for any convention.” …

There are nearly four months until the convention, many Democrats note. But planned walk-throughs of the convention site in Milwaukee have been delayed, according to multiple Democratic sources, and many convention organizing staffers are working from home. …

The DNC’s steady-as-she-goes posture stands in contrast to some of its own state parties. Wisconsin Democratic Party officials said they’re busy trying to figure out all the digital tools they need to be virtual for their state convention in June, just a month before the national convention in the state.

This echoes similar pledges from a couple of weeks ago, but the prospects for packing thousands of people into crowded venues look more bleak than they did at that time, too. The IOC just postponed its summer event for a year, the first time in its history that it has postponed an Olympiad (although some were canceled due to World Wars I and II). It’s not just the venue itself either, but all of the travel to get there and back that will be a concern in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic — if we’re still in the middle of it, and right now it doesn’t look promising that it will be over by that time.

Plus, the problem for both parties but Democrats especially is the process by which delegates get chosen. The final election of delegates takes place in state conventions, but those are the pinnacle of a process that nominates delegate candidates in precincts and then congressional districts first. It’s a grassroots process that holds local and state party leadership accountable, and allows at least the potential for real challenges to establishment direction.

If states can’t hold those events, they won’t have delegates to send in the first place, not unless the state parties change those rules too. If the establishment has to hand-pick delegates, the entire process loses any legitimacy, even if Joe Biden wins enough contests to get the nomination on the first ballot. In that scenario, what’s the point of a convention if it’s being run entirely by the DNC, which consists of the same state party leaders who made those delegate choices?

The point would be to put on a show, but the DNC still wants that show to go on. Quietly, CNN reported last night, the DNC is looking for ways to put on a show without its usual cast of thousands:

Top Democrats are actively considering a range of contingency plans for the party’s July convention, multiple top Democrats told CNN, including possibly shortening the in-person portion of the gathering or going entirely digital.

The planning, a result of the coronavirus pandemic, is in its earliest stages and party officials said there is no deadline for convention organizers to begin to shift plans. But Democratic National Committee Chair Tom Perez and other top party officials have begun to solicit guidance from advisers about the future of the convention, Democrats told CNN.

The decision to postpone this year’s summer Olympics, announced Tuesday, put further pressure on convention planners. Democrats selected the mid-July date in an effort to pick a nominee before the international sporting event began. Now that the coronavirus outbreak has delayed the Olympics, some are questioning whether similar changes need to be made to the convention.

The “Iceberg!” call has been made by the IOC. One has to figure that the DNC can turn the ship quickly enough to avoid it. As for Republicans, they have all the same process issues, but none of the political hangover from them that Democrats will have. Donald Trump is unchallenged for the nomination, and the party has already aligned itself to serve his electoral interests. The only thing Trump will miss is the rally aspect of the convention, but in this crisis, incumbency has given him other advantages already.