What’s a Brokered Convention? Will the GOP Have One?

brokered convention
Seeing red: a brokered convention could finally happen, to the GOP.

Brokered Convention. We’ve been hearing this term a lot lately as the GOP collectively freaks out over the candidate, Drumpf, who they once thought of as a joke, as he barrels his way to the nomination at the Republican Convention to be held in Cleveland in July.

To secure the Republican nomination for President this year, a candidate must have 1,237 delegates out of the 2,472 available. By June in a normal year — or this year as early, possibly, as the end of March, a leader emerges who wins enough delegates to become the unofficial nominee of the party — with the nomination at the convention a legal formality that allows the general election campaign to begin. (On the Democratic side, 2,383 delegates are needed to become the nominee, out of 3,267 available.)

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Not only is a convention held to make everything official, but it’s to reward loyalists with speaking slots and to party! As of this writing today, with only 15 states being counted (and not including the primary states voting on Sat., March 5), Drumpf has 329 delegates to Cruz’s 231. That leaves plenty of delegates up for grabs, and it’s possible — possible — that Drumpf won’t reach 1,237.

If no candidate reaches that magic number of 1,237, then we get what is called a brokered convention. In other words, yay! But not for Republicans, because at a brokered convention the delegates that were pledged to the candidates through the voting of the people would be released from that obligation and would vote instead on the convention floor whatever way they want to. That’s how the Republicans’ presidential nominee for 2016 would then be selected.

Beating the Drumpf

When convention delegates are free to vote for anyone they want, the message is this: the public be damned. The previous six months of primaries, caucuses and voting choices go out the window. Now, political operatives of every stripe and candidate would begin to descend, trying to convince each and every delegate to line themselves up with their guy. Deals would be dealt, positions would be promised and horses would be traded — anything to secure those critical votes, delegate by delegate by delegate.

You see, delegates are people, my friends. Actual individuals who, at a brokered convention, will have an opportunity to be bullied, bought, cajoled, threatened and begged into voting for specific candidates. Which is why the media is speculating breathlessly about what may happen to the Republicans in July, because a true brokered convention hasn’t happened to either party since the 1950s. There have been a few near-misses — the Republicans in 1976 with Reagan and Ford; the Democrats in 2008 with Obama and Clinton — but never a really open free-for-all with the cameras rolling.

[pullquote align=”right” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Will delegates defy the will of the GOP voters?[/pullquote]But this year it really could happen. The GOP — newly inspired by Mitt Romney’s dramatic takedown this week — simply does not want Drumpf to be the presumptive leader of the Republican Party. So if they can get to a brokered convention, they would then have to convince more than 1,200 people to vote for their guy instead, defying the voters in their states in many cases and knowing that to do so will be political dynamite back home. Pass the popcorn.

Due to the divisive nature of the Republican race, not to mention the GOP establishment’s disgust with Drumpf overall, this could be a very entertaining summer. Stay tuned.